How can we put the coronavirus outbreak in context with other high-risk epidemics in the last decade, such as Zika or H1N1?
Zika is not a good comparison because Zika is spread by mosquito bites, and COVID-19 is spread from person to person after being first transmitted to humans through animals (COVID-19 is very closely related to the bat coronavirus, but whether the infection was originally transmitted to another human animal – is unknown)
Infectiousness is described by a number called the Basic Reproductive Number – R0, (“R – zero”). The best estimate for COVID-19 is that R0 is about 2.2, which means it is about as infectious as the flu or SARS. However, R0 tells you everything you need to know about how alarming the infection will be: SARS has infected 8,000 people worldwide, while in Macedonia this season there are 4,316 cases of seasonal flu. It appears to be similar to the H1N1 flu, but unlike the flu, no one can have partial immunity, built from a previous infection or flu immunization. COVID-19 is too new.
How does the mortality rate compare to the flu?
It is not clear exactly what mortality rates are confirmed every day, but the WHO said on March 3 that it is about 3.4 percent globally, with older people at much higher risk.
In a typical flu season, the mortality rate is about 0.1%. In 1918, when the H1N1 flu killed 50 million people, the death rate was 2.5%.
Are isolation efforts necessary to limit coronavirus?
Absolutely. In an infectious epidemic, public health officials have only a few really effective tools. One is an effective vaccine, which is not yet available for SOVID-19. The other tool is the drug, if there are effective antiviral drugs, and for the coronavirus we do not have it yet (tests are ongoing). The final and oldest tool is to keep people away from each other, ie quarantine and isolation.
Do and how much food should we procure in case of isolation?
As we have seen from the experience in Debar, there may be interruptions in the supply of food and other goods. However, buying huge quantities of food as well as panic in supermarkets is a very bad idea. Think and plan well for food and other goods for two weeks, but no more. Also consider medicines, pet food, batteries, and the like.
Are there any differentiating symptoms for early detection of coronovirus?
No, the coronavirus can start just like a common cold. Symptoms usually begin about 5 days after exposure, but the incubation period can last up to 14 days. As noted earlier, many cases have no symptoms at all.
Symptoms of severe illness include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. This may indicate pneumonia, the most dangerous form of the disease that is likely to require you to seek hospitalization. Critical illness with COVID-19, especially in the elderly, is very dangerous.
Does the virus stay active forever and do we need a vaccine to “cure” it?
People with coronavirus stay in the hospital because they need special treatment, which can not be provided at home, intensive monitoring, and proper isolation. That is true in every situation. Hospitals have efficient isolation rooms and trained staff who know how to deal with the specific situation.
Once a person recovers from a coronavirus (the vast majority do), they are likely to have lifelong immunity if SOVID-19 behaves like other coronaviruses. Even people with minimal or no symptoms are likely to develop immunity. An effective vaccine will provide protection without getting sick.
What happens to the coronavirus vaccine?
Normally, it takes 3 to 5 years for a vaccine to be tested and developed. In theory, a COVID-19 vaccine could be developed in as little as 18 months, a record.
What is our general advice on how we should feel at this point?
Between slightly and moderately disturbed. We were preparing for a catastrophe and we expect it not to appear. Prepare for the worst, expect the best. Protect yourself and your loved ones. Isolate yourself. However, it depends on all of us.