We Need to Prepare for the Worst with Coronavirus

Climate and environment blog

Pending weather and when the corona epidemic is widespread in the world, we discuss how contagious and deadly this new infection is, and whether our preparedness is good in case many people would require hospital care.

Infectiousness as a whole is a consideration of how infectious an infection is, how many an infectious person meets during a certain time, and how long the infectiousness lasts. It is indicated in an R number. Initially, researchers in China indicated R = 2.2 for Cov19, ie an infected person can average 2.2 people. Common seasonal flu has R = 1.7. The passing infection with life in all probability gives life-long immunity. The more people who become immune and thus no longer susceptible to infection, the lower the R-value becomes.

When it becomes less than 1, R <1, the infection dies out, every infected person cannot infect a new susceptible person. This is an infection that is more contagious than influenza but not as contagious as measles that has R = 15 at the beginning of an epidemic.

We should have been more careful.
An unclear question is how long a person infected is contagious. That period is very short, only a few days, for both measles and influenza but can probably be significantly longer in case of a corona infection.

The time from infection to symptoms, the time of incubation is also uncertain. The current benchmark of 14 days can probably be considerably longer, at least in exceptional cases. Some patients also seem to be able to get infected even before the symptoms (cough and fever) erupt seriously.

The global spread of the epidemic with new cures in different places far apart is also a pattern that has not been seen before. Thus, there are still gaps in our knowledge of this new virus and perhaps one could have expected greater caution on the part of the authorities when making recommendations at the beginning of the epidemic.

Higher death rates for elderly people

Mortality is low in this new infection, the authorities hammer in, with the understandable intention to calm people. So far, it is 3 percent. But if mortality is finally assumed to be 2 percent for the population as a whole, it is probably significantly higher among older people. So far, it is mainly those who are seriously ill who die from this infection. Persons over 65 make up about 20 percent of the population and in that case, mortality could be around 10 percent and we should also be covered by the national welfare contract.

If our readiness and ability to cope with a generally prevalent Cov19 infection in healthcare can be found to be poor in many parts of the world. It is clear that no country can have a healthcare facility that is ready to receive perhaps thousands of new sick and infectious patients.

There are several bottlenecks, such as access to healthcare professionals, sick beds / intensive care centers, to protective equipment. An immediate task for the state leadership would be to blow off all notifications at the moment and instead invest in getting the many nurses who are currently outside the healthcare system.

For a nationwide infection, there will not be enough resources, where improvisations can be made as bearable as possible. Personally, I believe that national solidarity would be mobilized – and with unparalleled powers.

Prepare for the worst – hope for the best

For individual cases in different parts of the country, preparations have finally begun. Our opportunities for infection detection are good, which means that the infection can be limited better than in many other places and our homes are generally well-equipped and should, therefore, be able to accommodate moderately ill people.

The government and relevant authorities have begun to dust off and review the emergency resources.

So there are both worrying and favorable circumstances in our preparedness, but we should continue as far as we can to prepare for the worst – but hope for the best.

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