Concerns about the Wuhan Coronavirus may need to be adjusted upwards in light of the latest data. Many thanks to The Lancet for providing clinical data on this virus, for which reliable information has been hard to come by. The Lancet has now created a Coronavirus center at https://www.thelancet.com/coronavirus.
The latest study, “Epidemiological and clinical characteristics of 99 cases of 2019 novel coronavirus pneumonia in Wuhan, China: a descriptive study,” by N. Chen et al. in The Lancet, Jan. 29, 2019 (https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30211-7) provides some grim clinical information, including an 11% mortality rate for those who get pneumonia from the virus. For some reason this is much higher than is being reported in China generally, where mortality seems to be around 2-3%. The sample size in the study may be too small (99 patients) or they may have had unusually bad luck in their hospital, or elsewhere in China there may be some patients who were classified as deaths due to pneumonia, organ failure, or other causes without being recognized as Coronavirus cases. I am absolutely not suggesting, as some rumor mongers at questionable news sources like the Los Angeles Times or Zerohedge.com have suggested, that statistics are being doctored (so to speak), though I can certainly understand why individual communities and institutions might theoretically prefer to list as few fatalities as possible to avoid panic and maintain harmonious relations. And frankly, we are all hoping for as few fatalities as possible. Keep Wuhan and China in your prayers!
A Jan. 24 report from The Lancet provides even more troubling news about the possibility that children and young people may have the disease and be able to spread it without displaying symptoms, which could make the disease more difficult to contain by screening for fever or other symptoms. Ouch. I sincerely hope this is just another scurrilous Western rumor that needs to be censored ASAP, and it may be since the Lancet report is being discussed most loudly by the alarmist Bloomberg.com, a source which, mercifully, is blocked in China (as are several other well-known sources of rumors and fake news like Facebook, Twitter, Google, the New York Times, Wikipedia, and some “LOL Cat” sites, whatever they are). The original Lancet article is J.F.W. Chan et al., “A familial cluster of pneumonia associated with the 2019 novel coronavirus indicating person-to-person transmission: a study of a family cluster,” The Lancet, Jan. 24, 2020 (https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30154-9). If it’s all rumor, I apologize deeply and welcome your correction.
Finally, many thanks to President Nelson for having the Church send some much
needed medical supplies to China. I’m grateful the Church has the
resources to do that. Much greater assistance may be needed in the
future. By the way, do you have a supply of good surgical face masks for members of your family should there be an outbreak of this or a similarly dangerous virus in your community? Face masks, hand sanitizers, soap, tissue paper, toilet paper, plastic bags to cold contaminated clothing, laundry soap, and other basics might be wise to include with your food supply in case of emergency. In many communities in Asia, masks and some other basics are now difficult to get. Better to be prepared than to be standing in a 1-kilometer line with other possibly ill people waiting to get a mask, as happened in Taiwan recently. Be prepared!