Why today is the day we turned the corner in our understanding of the Coronavirus
The asymptomatic individuals with Covid-19 virus were initially postulated at just under 20% based on the first cruise ship outbreak in Japan. Then asymptomatic cases were updated to be about 50% based on the French aircraft carrier. Today it is apparent that the vast majority of individuals infected with Covid-19 either get no symptoms or very mild symptoms. A study of 3,000 randomly selected shoppers in New York State showed that 13.9% had antibodies to Covid-19. An astonishing 21.2% of shoppers tested in New York City tested positive for antibodies. The study has not been peer reviewed but certainly shows that the prevalence of the virus in society is much greater than we all thought. It also means that a lot of individuals who contracted Covid-19 have had no symptoms and apparently not worried about passing along the virus, have infected a great many other individuals.
Most people with Coronavirus show little or no symptoms
It is speculated based on extrapolating the rates of antibodies that up to 2.7 million people in New York State may have had an infection with Covid-19. Governor Cuomo said today that based on these numbers the true death rate from Coronavirus is about 0.5%. This is much less than the ratio of reported deaths/confirmed positive Covid-19 cases of 15,740/263,460 = 5.9% in New York State. Keep in mind the hospital based individuals are not in this study and those positive numbers of cases should be added to the shoppers. Based on the same extrapolation the USA may have had a total of 8-14 million infections already.
Far Lower Death Rate
The vast majority of people with significant symptoms have presented to the hospitals (or otherwise died silently). They were individuals with symptoms, many sick enough to be hospitalized in ICU and many sick enough to be on a ventilator. However, with the new antibody test, showing that the vast majority of the infected population had little or no symptoms we now understand that widespread contact tracing is no longer a viable option (those days are long gone).
Increased Age, Obesity, Diabetes, HBP, Heart and Lung Disease are significant risk factors for a bad outcome
Understanding how widespread Covid-19 is in the USA, particularly New York and surrounding states, we need to think about a new way of protecting those at most risk. Herd Immunity whether we wanted it or not is on its way. The high risk are still at risk until we have a vaccine to protect them. How do we protect them now in light of this new information and how do we get back to work responsibly?
Don’t let your guard down
The at risk population needs to stay hunkered down, maintain social distancing, wear a mask when out for groceries or better yet have someone in low risk do your shopping for them. Make sure our our risk population is cared for. Let’s keep them alive until a vaccine is approved so they can get back into the world.
How to get back to work
Widespread testing for antibodies and understanding the immunity it affords us is paramount in our return to work without fear. Check your temperature before you go to work. Wear a mask at work (breathing spreads the virus) in addition to the required social distancing. Outdoor work is safer because of increased airflow versus stagnant air. Wear a mask at the grocery store. And if you work, remember you still need to think about those at risk at home.
Food for thought?
Contemplate allowing 18-39 year old who are not overweight and have none of the risk factor disease go back to work. Of course using precautions above.
Today’s news appears scary but it really is good news for all of us and our recovery if we take the right steps.