Coronavirus: What you should know

This novel coronavirus outbreak is receiving a lot of media attention. How concerned should we be? How does this compare to previous viral epidemics?

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Enjoyed the article. With travel and our global society, it certainty will not be last virus to make news. One wonders if the public health response will alter the normal course of adaptation to the virus? In other words, if not widespread, will the virus remain virulent rather than having its effects moderated with time, making it more liable to having localized outbreaks of severe intensity rather than becoming endemic?

Might depend on the source of the ongoing outbreaks. If they result from continued human-to-human transmission, then there would likely be strong pressure toward lower virulence and asymptomatic infection. If instead they represent repeated zoonotic spillovers, then the virulence is unlikely to change. Evolution of virulence can be complicated.


What’s a zoonotic spillover??

Sorry, that was jargon – it’s a jump from an animal host to humans. Some viruses have made the jump once (e.g. measles) or twice (HIV), others jump at the start of each outbreak (Ebola), and still others jump for almost every infection (rabies).


(Note: it’s kind of annoying that the system edited out your question after I quoted it – quoting a whole post automatically gets edited out. If they’re going to program in a feature like that, they should include a minimum quote size to trigger the action. Nanny programming. Harumph.)


Can any of the nannies… er… @moderators do anything about Steve’s problem? I hate for our platform to be the cause of harumphs.

I just added it back in! Weird that it took it out, not sure why it did that.

Probably is a job for the IT guys. I doubt a moderator can do anything about that sort of program setting.

Could be caused by a virus. I’ll see myself out.



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I have a friend in Hong Kong. She states the shelves are empty of masks, and lines form when they get a new delivery. The buses and railway stations are empty as many are staying home. Church is interesting as the ones who show up try to sing through face masks.

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It hasn’t mutated yet, so it’s virulence hasn’t decreased.

According to that same article, the virus is only spreading through close contact and exposure to droplets, so it hasn’t gone airborne (yet). Hopefully this will prevent the virus from spreading. The SARS outbreak a few years back was also a coronavirus. SARS didn’t go global and disappeared over time, so hopefully this outbreak will be the same. Fingers crossed.


One feels for the deaf community or anybody who must depend on lip reading.

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It’s not clear what they mean by that, since the virus has indeed mutated since its introduction. Not a lot, but at the rate you’d expect from a fast-evolving RNA virus over a few weeks. It is true that no mutations have become common.

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Good point. A single mutation has the capability to lower virulence, so we can’t draw any conclusions at this moment.

I have looked into it before. If you quote the whole post that is immediately above yours, it is automatically deleted by the system. It’s a Discourse default setting. We could disable it in settings.

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On the scale of life’s irritations, it ranks somewhere below belly button lint.


I look forward to reading it. Been following it a little bit. One really good podcast I just listened to recently covered this topic fairly in depth. It’s about 90 minutes long and they talked with 2 pathologists that are hands on working on the disease.

The podcast is called, “ This Podcast Will Kill You”. From SARS to the common cold the corona viruses are interesting. I think it’s at 2-3% mortality rate affecting mostly young kids and the elderly.

Based off of symptoms I feel SARS was worse but I’ll have to wait and see more about it.

Not young kids – with this virus, severe disease seems to be quite uncommon in children. The reported case fatality rate in Wuhan (or rather, Wuhan’s province) is around 3%, while the reported rate for cases elsewhere is well under 1%. How much of this is due to time lag outside Wuhan (it may take a long time for cases to resolve) and how much results from milder cases being ignored in Wuhan is still unclear.

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