Reasons for Hope about the Coronavirus Pandemic

April 16th, 2020. This post was originally written in early March. Some of the facts have changed, but I am leaving it up here for the historical record. I do think most of the article is still relevant. However, there is recent evidence to suggest that the China numbers are not accurate. Also, they apparently are not shutting down their wet markets after all.

With over 130,000 cases worldwide and nearly 5,000 deaths, the WHO has declared Covid-19 to be a worldwide pandemic. The number of cases continues to grow exponentially, and it's possible that hundreds of thousands of people may die. Furthermore, the responses of national governments and NGOs have been severely inadequate. The news grows worse every day, and many people are justifiably worried about the safety of their loved ones. With all that said, there are reasons for hope.

1. China Has Already Mostly Defeated Coronavirus

In China, the source of the epidemic, the number of new cases peaked on February 12th and has sharply declined since. Yesterday, March 11, there were just 15 new cases. In Wuhan itself, there are now thousands of empty hospital beds as the number of new cases has plummeted.

China has proved that, even with 80,000 cases, it is possible to halt and reverse the spread of the disease.

2. South Korea Is Making Progress Too

Some people think that only a totalitarian state like China can stop the spread of the disease. But South Korea is well on the way to stopping it as well. New cases have been declining since March 3rd.

3. Western Governments are Finally Responding

After weeks of ignoring the problem, governments in Western countries are finally taking action. Italy's country-wide quarantine is the most drastic action, but other national and local governments are taking major steps as well. It's very likely that these actions will reduce the rate at which the disease is spread.

4. Testing Will Improve

Testing for coronavirus has been completely inadequate in most countries. In many cases, infected people were not tested, and then went on to spread the disease to other people.

In the coming days and weeks, this will change. The amount of available test kits will improve by leaps and bounds. Once people are tested, those who are infected can be quarantined and their close contacts can be tested as well.

Countries with strong testing regimes have been able to almost completely stop the spread of the disease. Taiwan has tested every resident and visitor with flu-like symptoms since January 31st. As a result, the entire country has had only 49 cases of coronavirus and just 1 death.

5. The Disease Is Probably Less Deadly That We Think

With the lack of testing, the number of cases of coronavirus is probably much higher than reported. People with minor or asymptomatic cases are not being recorded in the stats.

But this means the death rate is much lower than reported. It's likely that the actual death rate for coronavirus is less than 1%, provided that proper medical care is available.

6. It Barely Affects Kids

As of today, no one under the age of 10 has died of coronavirus and only a few under the age of 20 have died.

7. Medical Treatments Will Improve

If coronavirus continues to be a worldwide problem in the coming months or years, new medical treatments will be devised that will make the disease much less deadly. Already, a new antiviral called Remdesivir is being tested that may prove effective at combatting the virus.

Further in the future, it's possibly that a vaccine will be developed which could stop coronavirus entirely.

8. Wild Animal Markets Are Being Shut Down

China has announced that it is shutting down the wild animal markets which were the cause of both coronavirus and SARS. This action will prevent future outbreaks, and could possibly have beneficial effects on endangered species populations.

9. Warm Temperatures Might Help

So far, the areas which have been hardest hit by coronavirus have temperatures and humidities within certain ranges. Countries with warmer weather such as Thailand, Vietnam, India have been largely unscathed. Furthermore, one recent research paper shows that the disease spread less quickly in Chinese cities with higher temperature and humidity. It's possible, though not certain, that the arrival of summer will help to curtail the spread of the disease.

10. It Could Have Been a Lot Worse

Coronavirus has exposed major failings in the governments and NGOs which were supposed to keep us safe from a pandemic. But we're fortunate that coronavirus is not a much deadlier disease such as SARS or Ebola. Hopefully, the lessons learned from coronavirus will help prevent such a disease from spreading in the future.

That's all. Was there anything I missed? Please stay safe out there JetPunkers.

+31
Level ∞
Mar 12, 2020
I just want to point out that none of these reasons for hope is a reason to take the disease lightly. In fact, it is only by taking things seriously that things will get better.
+1
Level 7
Aug 7, 2020
Ok, now imagine you read this post listening to Bon Jovi's Keep The Faith. . .
+5
Level 56
Mar 12, 2020
I'm debating whether or not to leave Canada for a period of time and to go back to China, to stay safe from the virus. How ironic.
+9
Level ∞
Mar 13, 2020
China is now one of the safest places to be if you want to avoid coronavirus.
+8
Level 56
Apr 20, 2020
Nope, Antarctica is safest
+13
Level 61
Mar 13, 2020
I definitely wouldn't do this. China made a remarkable job of quarantine, but they did it using draconian measures, forcible containment, and threats (and use) of violence. these measures have worked to contain the disease, but it has been horrible for the population. Keep in mind that China remains vulnerable to new outbreaks, and there are at least 2 known strains of COVID-19; it is not yet known whether surviving the virus imparts immunity to one or more of the variants. If you are under 65 this disease poses very little threat to you in Canada.
+7
Level 82
Mar 17, 2020
Not sure where you get your information, but I have been in China for the whole time of this outbreak, no violence used or threatened. People have been practical. Working from home was a fairly easy switch, they have maintained essential services to enable this and regular checks at every public space have been sensibly handled. With the widespread use of the alipay app, a QR health code has been added to let people show that they have been in a low risk area for sufficient time.
+5
Level 57
Mar 12, 2020
COVID-19 is so last year.
+1
Level 72
Mar 13, 2020
About point 1 - but they are still at risk of the epidemic spreading again I would guess?
+1
Level ∞
Mar 13, 2020
Yes, but I would imagine any cases of coronavirus reemerging in China would be immediately quarantined with all their contacts tested as well. It's much easier to stop 1 case than it is to stop 80,000.
+2
Level 73
Mar 13, 2020
Point 5 and 9 were already largely rebuked by the WHO and medical professionals.
We simply don't know, wether or not the virus follows a seasonal pattern or not. The flu does, but MERS didn't. Seasonal drops are usually due to people staying in closer relation to other people in cold seasons, but with the momentary pandemic, the high amount of already affected people especially when concentrated in specific areas, can anull this effect. Click me!

The death rate being lower is also extremely speculativ. The speed of the pandemic so far makes it hard, to calculate a real death rate, but it's certainly bigger than that of the flu (Flu: ~0.1%; Covid-19: ~0.3 - 8%). Cov-sars spreads faster, putting more pressure on hospitals and risk groops. Overwhelmed medical providers alone will put COVID above the flu here.
+2
Level 68
Mar 13, 2020
Completely agree with this. Although many of the deaths will be eventually due to lack of medical equipment, causing many to die when they might not have. This would increase the death rate and is partially why Italy has such a high death rate. (Partially due to a very high average age though too).

Also the counterargument of India in point 9 is largely suspected to be misleading. There are reports from people in India that testing is not widely available, and doctors are prescribing medicine based on flu symptoms. Meaning thousands are being uncounted despite having serious symptoms. Furthermore, they have not been testing upon death, meaning many covid-19 deaths in India are just being accounted as flu deaths.

Overall it's a good summary but I believe it's overlooking some key points.
+1
Level 57
Mar 13, 2020
Indeed that's why there haven't been many cases of COVID-19 in India. Though in most cases, people are hiding their travel history in fear of getting quarantined or just in a fear of the troubles they have to go through. And not to mention that our Medical facilities is inadequate, recently an old man from Bengal diagnosed with COVID-19 who had travelled to Iran died, but government and the medical team said it was from diabetes. Don't know how much true it is and if they are hiding facts it might be to not create a panic but I think if they don't then people will stay more safe in fear. The sudden rise of COVID-19 cases in India was surprising yet not a lot of action has been taken country wide. I'm rather afraid if the Virus spreads to the lower section of the population that is below the Poverty line then millions and millions will die. Now since it's a foreign Virus, poor people are largely unaffected but still if a homeless beggar dies from COVID-19, no one will get to know that
+5
Level ∞
Mar 13, 2020
You guys are arguing with stuff I never said. COVID-19 is definitely more deadly than the flu. That's clear. But countries with good testing like South Korea are seeing fatality rates less than 1%. That could change if hospitals become overwhelmed. But this is a reasons for hope article, not reasons for panic.
+2
Level ∞
Mar 13, 2020
Finally, regarding the seasonality, I never claimed it as a certainty. But I really don't buy the claim that there are tons of Covid related deaths in Thailand, Vietnam, or India. There may be some, but no where near what we are seeing in Italy for example. If there were, the hospitals would be overflowing. The seasonality aspect is very much up for debate. No one should be making definitive claims either way.
+4
Level 73
Mar 14, 2020
You are making claims, two of which are disregarded by the WHO. I don't think, that referring to uncertainty is a valid response in the face of a pandemic, that needs people to stay alert and cautious.
You are reacting to anxiousness and panic. That's great. But those reactions should not come on the dispense of facts that might be important for battling the pandemic.
There might be people, who believe that the virus will go away, when the temperature changes. If there will be a dip in cases in April/June (and there probably will, due to political measures taken), those people may believe the pandemic is over, reassuming their norman behaviour and starting the problem all over again.

I just want to ask you to improve the blog post according to actual numbers. It's raison d'être will not be damaged by that.
+1
Level ∞
Mar 16, 2020
It's possible, even likely, that this is seasonal. Since this article was originally posted, I've added a link to a research paper that examines the limited data that we have. To claim that coronavirus is definitely not influenced by the weather is simply not supported by the available evidence. But time will tell.
+1
Level ∞
Mar 16, 2020
By the way, the biggest problem right now is defeatism. People in some countries are saying things like "everyone's going to get it". We can do better. We need reasons for hope and the negativity is not helping.
+2
Level ∞
Apr 16, 2020
My claims are looking pretty good now, by the way. Let's not forget that the WHO made a complete mess of this.
+2
Level 55
Mar 13, 2020
Sorry, but the western government didn't, don't anr most likely won't do enough for it. The reason why South Korea is slowing down is because they test everyone and their people have good knowledges, wearing masks, wash hands and such. The only country that is also testing as much as SK is the UK, and most people in Europe didn't get a serious disease before, and now they don't wash hands, wear masks, go to outside without anything, etc. Really hope it slows down, but by now, if we keep facing it like that, it won't. I will also make a blog if I have time about how SK, China, Taiwan, Singapore and such get it at the beginning but slow it down. Hope this helps more.
+2
Level 55
Mar 13, 2020
And no, China's cases are slowing down but not that more as it reported. There are definitely more cases than we thought.
+1
Level ∞
Mar 13, 2020
Here's a chart of China's cases. They have massively slowed down and almost stopped:

https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/china/

+1
Level ∞
Mar 13, 2020
But I do agree that Western governments and citizens need to be more like South Korea. We can beat this illness if everyone takes the necessary measures of social distancing and better hygiene.
+2
Level 62
Mar 13, 2020
I feel like it's worth also including that the public is starting to take social distancing very seriously. Cancelling major events like shows with large audiences, sporting events, etc. and closing down schools (or moving classes online) I think will definitely slow the spread of the disease somewhat.
+2
Level 71
Mar 14, 2020
During the day, I have a one hour long timer constantly running on my watch. I reset it when I wash my hands. If the timer ever reaches 0, I go and wash my hands. This ensures that I do it at the frequency of at least once an hour. I might encourage you guys to take similar steps.
+1
Level 57
Mar 14, 2020
Wow, that's impressive. I don't have a watch but I'll try to set an alarm in my Android 😅 though I do wash hands but I'm dirty more than usual. I've the habit of putting Pen and Pencils in my mouth and I do rub my eyes a lot too which are absolutely NO! NO!
+1
Level 73
Apr 18, 2020
Is this sarcasm? Hard to detect these days.
+1
Level 22
Mar 15, 2020
Excuse me to point out that even that i am not an expert there is 10 000 deaths of influenza in France alone and 33 percent of human beings have it each year.
+7
Level ∞
Mar 16, 2020
Covid-19 is more than 10 times as deadly as the flu. Your comparison is meaningless.
+1
Level 73
Apr 18, 2020
The fact that many people have influenza each year also means that many people are immune, no? And we have a vaccine against it.
+2
Level 45
Mar 15, 2020
It is very interesting to follow the coronavirus news despite its negative impact on society. I myself have started taking more precautions when going outside and wash my hands regularly. The tactics in Europe (with the exception of the UK, which I'll get onto) seem aggressive and very fast paced. Governments particularly in Spain, Italy and France have realised the threat of the virus and have implemented strict measures to prevent further spread. Austria has gone even further. The UK on the other hand has taken a much more relaxed approach. Although this is likely to change, the UK is definitely being to slow to act and this needs to change soon. Hopefully, the world will learn from this pandemic. Everyone try and stay safe :)
+1
Level 73
Mar 15, 2020
It also makes me optimistic that politicians seem to take this seriously, seek advice from the best experts and listen to them and largely set aside their agendas. With one major exception, of course.
+1
Level 31
Mar 17, 2020
it's getting bad in uk still 409 cases were reported today and we may go into lock down
+1
Level 66
Mar 31, 2020
And now the UK coronavirus spread is showing early signs of slowing.
+1
Level 47
Mar 18, 2020
See my blog on the corona....
+1
Level 16
Mar 22, 2020
Thanks for giving me hope
+1
Level 52
Apr 11, 2020
Italy's country wide lockdown is the most drastic action so far. What about New Zealand's country wide lockdown?
+1
Level 48
Apr 23, 2020
Going back to work in Saudi Arabia from the USA. I'm not scared of the coronavirus because I've heard they are taking strong measurements against the virus
+1
Level 33
May 9, 2020
What about Ecuador and some parts of Brazil? Guayaquil and Manaus are cities that are taking a big hit.
+1
Level 36
May 16, 2020
You could add that South Korea literally started their baseball season again, (although mostly without fans.)
+1
Level 73
May 25, 2020
Belarus didn't even suspend its top soccer league, and Germany's Bundesliga resumed this month. I'm not sure these are reasons for hope. They are concessions to public and economic demands which may or may not affect the pandemic.
+2
Level 15
Aug 7, 2020
any updates for this blog?