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Coronavirus - an expert interview

Cynthia Drummond's has an article in The Westerly Sun on March 8, interviewing Dr. Selim Suner of Brown University about the Coronavirus. It has excellent information to offset some of the myths propagating in social media, the press, and government statements.

Some excerpts follow but the entire article can be read here.

The Sun: Is it true that some people are more susceptible to the coronavirus than others?

Dr. Suner: “The data that’s coming out is very preliminary and it’s coming out fast and it’s not completely peer-reviewed. There are a lot of data coming out, but looking at a large cohort of patients, over 70,000 from China that was reported in the medical literature, we’re seeing some patterns. The most important of those patterns is that elderly people over the age of 60, 70, have a much higher burden of severe illness and death and those with co-morbid diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and smokers seem to be affected disproportionately severely from this illness. And kids are spared.

They have sub-clinical illness, which means they don’t show many symptoms, if any at all. They may spread the virus without showing any symptoms, but they don’t get very sick and they don’t die.”

Dr. Suner: “We see these pictures of people wearing masks on the streets coming from Asia. You know, Wuhan city was a completely different story than what we had in the United States when it first happened. There was widespread disease in Wuhan, so under those circumstances, the use of masks may have had some effect and that could be argued as well.

But in the United States, healthy people wearing a mask on the street has really no effect in terms of protecting them from getting the disease. They’re probably going to get the disease not from their mouth, but from touching something with their hand and rubbing their eyes. Now, if someone is sick and they’re coughing and they wear a mask when they’re in a gathering with people close to them, within 6 feet of them, then that’s helpful — not for the patient wearing the mask but for everybody else around them.”

The Sun: What about a vaccine?

Dr. Suner: “That’s going to take a year, year and a half before we have that available.”

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