Coronavirus 2019 hitting Human Capacity and Norms

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According to WHO Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus. Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment.  Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness. The best way to prevent and slow down transmission is be well informed about the COVID-19 virus, the disease it causes and how it spreads. Protect yourself and others from infection by washing your hands or using an alcohol based rub frequently and not touching your face.

On 31 December 2019, the WHO China Country Office was informed of cases of pneumonia unknown etiology (unknown cause) detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China. From 31 December 2019 through 3 January 2020, a total of 44 case-patients with pneumonia of unknown etiology were reported to WHO by the national authorities in China. During this reported period, the causal agent was not identified. According to Situation Report-68 of 28 Mach 2020, the WHO Director-General highlighted in his media briefing that the chronic global shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) is one of the most urgent threats to our collective ability to save lives. Till that date, WHO has shipped almost 2 million individual items of PPE to 74 countries and is preparing to send a similar amount to a further 60 countries. Globally 571,678 cases were confirmed  with 26,494 deaths comprising: Western Pacific Region 101 3592, European Region 18 740, South-East Asia Region 114, Eastern Mediterranean Region 2508, Region of the Americas 1485 and African Region 48.

“There might finally be an explanation for why India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Africa haven’t had much cases yet.  Looks like all the malaria infected countries have good immunity and hence fatality rates are lower.  This is probably also the reason why chloroquine is working as a treatment.  Check out the world infliction maps (Figure 1) for malaria and COVID – mirror image!!!!”

At this time, there are no specific vaccines or treatments for COVID-19. However, there are many ongoing clinical trials evaluating potential treatments. WHO will continue to provide updated information as soon as clinical findings become available.

Hitting the Human Capacity

In any biological system, if you put a living organism into an environment where it can thrive, with unlimited resources and no predators or competitors, it will always grow in the same fashion: exponentially (Forbes, March 17, 2020). As long as those conditions are met, everything from wolves to parasitic wasps to yeast cells will grow exponentially, up until one of those assumptions fails to be true. Only at that point will growth become slower, and that holds the key to understanding how to mitigate the present pandemic.

This is very different from how the human mind normally perceives of growth: in linear (or arithemetic) fashion. Think about these two sequences of numbers, one of which shows linear growth and one of which shows exponential growth.

  • 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, etc.
  • 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, 1024, etc.

In both cases, the numbers start out small and remain small (but growing) for a time. But very quickly, the differences between the top sequence (which is the linear growth we typically think of) and the bottom sequence (which is the exponential growth we’re encountering now) become apparent. Exponential growth is so powerful not because it’s necessarily fast, but because it’s relentless. Without introducing a factor to suppress it, exponential growth is an infectious disease doctor’s nightmare, particularly as more time goes on.

For starters, despite the fact that the numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases appears to be exponentially rising in the United States with a doubling time of 2.4 days, larger and longer-period studies have shown that the true doubling time is closer to 6 days, indicating that the United States data is skewed by insufficient testing.

In addition, the “exponential growth” part can be stemmed, suppressed, or stopped entirely through a number of actions that we have the ability to take, both as individuals and as a collective society. There are a number of actions we can take, and they will have different effects and impacts on how rapidly and extensively this disease will spread. If we practice social distancing, for instance, where we avoid large gatherings and keep a significant distance between ourselves and others’ bodies, we can reduce the transmission rate. Interventions such as this can effectively increase the “doubling time” of the disease significantly, slowing the rate of infection in the uninfected population. The more successful an intervention such as this is, the more spread out in time the infection will be among the public: what infectious disease specialists are calling “flattening the curve,” which prevents everyone from getting sick at once. This didn’t happen in countries like Italy and Iran during a critical period, and explains why both infection rates and death rates are so high in those countries.

But, for the time being, it appears that the COVID-19 infection is still growing exponentially in many countries across the world, including the United States. The doubling time has been increased to six days or more in South Korea and Iran, but remains between 2 and 4 days in countries like Sweden, France, Italy, Australia, Spain, the Netherlands, and the United States. And most frighteningly, if we continue on our present exponential trends, we will reach a total of over 1 million infected by early April in a large number of countries.

Human Norms

COVID-19 has been the biggest catastrophe in the recent human history. The rapid transmission pattern of the disease, the exponential growth among the population and the painful progression of the illness has spread severe depression in the people around the Globe. Spread of the disease at Wuhan, China and its extensive coverage  by the mainstream and social media affected the lives of the people in the urban and remote regions. People belonging to different segments of the Society got connected mentally and spiritually and wished protection for all human beings.

WHO Resourcebase

Scientific Evidence of COVID19

COVID Pakistan

Social and Popular Media

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