« Making Sense with Sam Harris

#190 — How Should We Respond to Coronavirus?

2020-03-10 | 🔗

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Nicholas Christakis about the coronavirus pandemic. They discuss the likely effects on society, proactive vs reactive school closures, community transmission, false comparisons between coronavirus and flu, the imperative of social distancing, the timeline of the pandemic, Trump’s political messaging, the widespread distrust of expertise, the importance of "flattening the curve" of the epidemic, the possible failure of our healthcare system, gradations of personal response to this threat, and other topics.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Welcome to the Megan says by cast. This is SAM Harris, okay, so it is all corona virus. All the time now in my world. I am actually in Berlin in two podcast on corona virus this week this is pre empted, the other things I have in the pipeline, as I think you know, if you ve been listening, I've been doing since freeze on nuclear war and I out of a podcast on child sexual abuse them I can't seem to have taken a dark turn and I find I can not drop either of those bond into the current environment when we need to be thinking about corona virus end its resultant disease covered nineteen. So I will try to find some good cheer for you at some point. But let's talk about the problem at hand so that the first of two podcast I'll do this week.
It's fun. Everything all together, then just wants a couple of things up front lest they get lost. A fair amount of time focusing on this. Many of you have and frankly alarmed by several ink hunters have had with very smart people in both in Peru, seven and online, which revealed mismatch between what I think is true, and what many smart people believe care You statements, which I think are true covered. Nineteen is worse than the flu in every way, so comparisons with the flu are highly missile. In and it is not just bad if you catch it and your over seventy or your Munich compromised their healthy fit people getting killed by this virus. Another point I want to make up front
we make some lengthens podcast is that, even if all destined to catch this virus, eventually, Social distancing at this point is essential, so called flattening the curve is a very big deal right. So just think about this. To get the word first flew in your life is bad, but to get it when the health care system has collapsed. Under the pressure of everyone else. Getting this flu is very different. Then get in and when hospitals are functioning normally and the only lever within reach right now, absence of a vaccine. The only thing we can do is to lay the spread of this by chain. In our behavior. So the time her hugging people and shaking hands, is over. You not being friendly by shaken someone's hand, in fact, you're being quite rude.
Advertising, your oblivious, to the risk, your posing to others and wherever you are on earth at the moment. If you in work from home, you should work from home. This should be a company policy right if you have a company, where some percentage of the work be accomplished by telecommuting, you should implemented policy. Right now,. And this is also true for schools. Stanford too years ago announced their classes would be moved online school everywhere, should implement that policy as quickly as they can now. There is an obvious trade off between, economic incentives and containing the spread of this disease We should be privilege in the latter. This is apt salute the time to avoid
social gatherings and public transport as much as possible and anyone who is taking his or her, use from President Trump. At this point is dangerously out of contact with reality,. Anyway. All of that and moral. We made clear in this episode and has no power. All for this one. Obviously this is yet another public nervous announcement to dance gain with Nicholas Christophersen, necklaces and em the and a professor of Social. Natural science at Yale University, where he directs the nature lab and as the code of the Yale Institute for network science. He was alive did to the National Academy, medicine in two thousand and six and the American Association for the advancement of science in two thousand and ten and the amounts an academy of arts and sciences in two thousand seventeen and his.
New York Times best selling book, which has just come out and paper back. His blueprint, which have read and discuss before in his pocket, Nicholas and a highly recommended. And so here Nicholas Nigh cover this emerging epidemic now certainly a pandemic from besides, and again whenever we don't cover here, if you have remained questions. Please direct them to me on Twitter. Because of their according another episode with a doktor from Johns Hopkins. As you know, things are changing very quickly here, but this rotation was a very good snapshot of what we knew on March. Eighth, and now I bring you nicholas- hackers I am here with Nicholas Chris Stokas necklace thanks for joining me. Thank you so much for having me SAM. We are going to talk about corona virus, which is if you're in
My particular bubble is all that anyone is thinking about how wide that public stance, I am noticing that it doesn't extend perfectly across the police. Google Spectra, my where social media, I'm noticing many people who seem to be in trumpet, Stan thinking. That is much ado about nothing and we'll talk about the political implications of this as well, but how much your bandwidth is being taken up by corona virus at the moment. Well it huge amount of my scientific bandwidth around January twenty five, a long standing collaboration with a group of scientists from Hong Kong who in turn are connected to some other scientists in China and around two January, twenty fourth or twenty fifth, we started emailing about the situation there and what kind of work
You might be able to do, and I began to think more more deliberately about how I might turn my laboratory over to trying to help with a pandemic, which was, for me at least, obviously going to happen, and I had done some research with each one in one hand, Emmett ten years ago, related to using social networks as a way of forecasting the course, the epidemics I began to resurrect that work and some other work and began these new collaboration with it. My chinese colleagues and so basically- and I have slept much honestly- last year, the last month because we ve been working, not stop on a number of fronts. So so my scientific bandwidth is totally devoted to that right now, although we have a few other projects going on and my personal bandwidth dino is. I'm not I'm concerned in I'm, I'm monitoring the situation she just to remind people who you are. You ve been on the park ass before last time. We spoke, about your wonderful book, blueprint which I believe-
just now coming out in paper bags error. It yeah by coincidence this week, ok cool, Some people want to hear that park assets in the archive, and I certainly encourage that people get the book. You have a great background for this conversation because you you're an m d Phd, who has also focused of late primarily on network, and the way really anything spread in a network you whenever bio here to get us rolling. Well, You know I have become obsessed over the last fifteen years with the study of networks in general and, of course, their networks of computers and networks of neurons and networks of genes and, of course, networks of people, and it is through these networks that everything from germs two ideas to norms. Behaviors spread and they are not the only ones with which we can understand spreading processes, but their very powerful and important lens, and
right now. We have, for example, what I would consider to be a dueling contagion between a biological contagion namely the corona virus, which is spreading on this network from person to person to person, and in parallel with that, we have another set of social contagion, which has, for example, ideas about whether people should be vaccinated or whether people should self isolate and those spread. You know, you're you're probability vaccinating depends on whether your friends get vaccinated. For example, we have these parallel biological and social, sociological, contagion and, and and in some sense the fate of what happens in our country will depend in part not completely, but in part on on on who wins near him that can,
can't agents yeah, ok, so our goal here is to spread some good and useful contagious ideas. I think before we dive into the details, I went out on twitter asking for questions and suggested topics, and I got close to a thousand responses so far. So oh my God there's no want of interest here, but I think I shall just mention that I see obvious ways in which people can fail to absorb what were saying in good faith here, and one variable is certainly political. I think that any criticism of the government's response to this crisis thus far will be interpreted by many many people as both of us or why, of us and we certainly in my case, trying to score a partisan political point against the president, and I can just assure you dear listener.
This isn't a case in I've made no secret about how unfit I believe, Tromp is to be leading this country and He has proven that to me in spades in the last few weeks, but everything I'm gone to say at any point. Rotation. The touches on what seems to be political, obfuscation and general clueless from this administration. I would say, any administration. Responding this way in the face of a clear public health emergency. Yeah me the virus is the virus is holy. A political and you know I think there are. There is a biology in a sociology and an epidemiology to the virus that doesn't really care what politicians say or do, and I think it's important to remember that we can speak about plain facts about the epidemiology of coronavirus and in doing so he says nothing about our political leadership. Now it is the case that
Leadership may also be failing and that's a distinct topic, but merely discussing fast about the epidemic is that an American died men from the administration for say or discussing facts like the fact that the trumpet ministration cut the? U S pandemic response team in twenty eighteen bigger I thought we didn't need it, and this is at best a short I view of reality and this one of the most precious And relevant things that's been said in recent weeks about this whole moment. Whether or not krona virus is as bad as the most alarmed me I think it is or what you know whether it might just be a dress rehearsal for some coming pen. Dynamic. That really is as bad as people fear too. Things are true, one is failing, the dress rehearsal to an impressive degree in the way, in particular the United States, and that should add or to us and to
some pandemic, whether this is the one or not, is guaranteed to come, and this is your bill gates. This point, and this is the most predictable emergency you could possibly name. This was guaranteed to happen, and if this isn't it let us, learn all the lessons we can from our missteps here, but this is a gift to see of evolution that we knew was coming and the fact have an administration that seems to think that a pandemic response team is optional, is pretty depressing. While I agree that I agree with much of that in the sense that I totally agree that the predictability these pandemics- and this can also be reassuring to listeners- we we have pandemics of a viral pathogens, including in the category of corona viruses, which is a category we're facing now, every ten or fifteen years,
people will remember the Sars outbreak in the H one in one hour breaks of the last decade. We can talk about the ways in which this virus is different than than those outbreaks, and people who ve studied history. No, that there was a major global pandemic and nineteen eighteen, so every century or so there's like a major pandemic like that in which the pathogen is both very deadly, an very transmissible and other times. We a passenger's that are very transmissible and not so deadly and those prove to be to burn out very quickly like the pandemic. In two thousand and six, two thousand seven and other times we appendix of diseases that are very deadly, but not so transmissible, for example, Sars and then, when the diseases is too deadly, it actually works against itself. If it kills its victims, it doesnt transmit as much so in a way right now we have a disease that moderately
sadly, and moderately transmissible and in that could be quite a perfect storm it. It could be a condition that you know let's in every fifty year event, but but the main point is that these influenza, like influenza, pandemics, come every ten or fifteen years, and sometimes they fizzle out, and sometimes they don't sometimes are very serious and whenever the serious. They wreak havoc, not only in terms of the health and people's lives, but they can weak economic havoc as well, which is another thing that many observers are beginning to be concerned about yeah yeah, and it really is a tension between the focus, on the epidemiology and the straightforward health concerns and this up. Concern about the economics and the the social impact. Nations of people,
I'm going to restaurants and Munich, closing schools and all the rest, those of the first order effect. So so you know they travel industry is being devastated, even as we beak. In its unclear how long that will last, but then you know, will begin to have second order effect, so breakdowns in the supply chain and room and of your factories, not working and ending of those things begin to happen. This this epidemic, you know, could give us interests. Living in recession. So you that's, but that's not the whole thing and it still a little bit early to forecast that it be certain about that. But it is the case that major epidemics resemble the nineteen eighteen epidemic pandemic definitely played a role in the global depression. So I think it is too early to know that, sure, but it's not crazy to think about the economic implications and, incidentally, suddenly, on economic issues. I'm no expert on this. The this is not demand shock. This is a supply of potentially a supply shock, so demand shock. Is you know when, when recession due to declining
and then a stimulus might work. For example, a dropping interest rates, as the FED recently did, but a supply shock is more the arab oil crisis of the nineteen seventies at many listeners may remember, and- and that's when you have a shock to the supply side on the supply side, and there you are lowering interest rates, doesn't really help so it for the sake of argument. You begin to get disruption in the global supply chain. This could be. This could be a very difficult thing to address until you get the factories working, producing the goods and distributing them. So it's too too early to know for sure, what's gonna happen and in that regard, but I know that many sophisticated observers of this, including many economists in many extremely wealthy individuals who are tracking this- are unsure still what's gonna happen, except the one thing we can be sure about here is that you can excited. I mean I'm yeah, no, that we can be sure that Incentives aren't aligned here so that too
and this is what has been worrying me for Now- at least- I would say two weeks the moment. I recognise that the health incentives- The reason I say to clothes. Schools seemed fairly straightforward and yet the economic reasons to keep them open. Were and are incredibly powerful and pointing in the opposite direction, and my concern is that, because the economic issues Those are so powerful, Emily just take school closure has one variable fact that you know. Once you close the schools, then you have almost. Every working adult faced with the problem of what to do with their children. How do you get it or a cat, you care for children, the home school them. Does that cut the workforce. In a more or less than half a minute, suggest a huge hassle with economic implications, and so the the reasons not to have the epiphany that we should close the schools yesterday
are Legion and yet the health wisdom of closing the schools then fairly obvious for some time. We're gonna get to lots of specific questions in a minute, but let's just touch this topic of school clothes just to give a sense of the problem and microcosm. Why? What are your file Hannah offers? All was who closures we have to make a distinction between reactive and pro active school closures. So, let's talk first about reactive, school closures are reactor school closures, school closure, in which there is a case at the school and when that happens, typically, everyone is alarmed and is quite eager and willing to close the school. The odds are makes sense to the man on the street or the woman in the street that well there's an epidemic raging under the case at the school who should close the school. The problem is by the way, You do reactor school closures. Many many analyses show that it doesnt delay
the overall epidemic or doesn't help the overall epidemic very much. For example, an analysis of reactive school closures in the last influenza epidemic in ITALY showed that reactive policy reactors will closures. I think reduce the epidemic by like twenty four percent or twenty five percent, the ultimate number people afflicted, which is good, but not as good as you might want. So you can postpone the peak of the epidemic in your community and reduce the number of people ultimately infected if you close schools once someone gets sick in the school similar now has done in Japan found basically the same conclusions and modeling exercise of mathematical model, sophisticated models, cutting a paper published in the journal, Natura two thousand and six also found that you know, policy of reactive, school closure delayed, I'm gonna, look the numbers, because I'm summer here for a moderately transmissible diseases,
reduce the cumulative attack rate by about twenty four percent and delayed the peace by about thirteen days. So the models and the empirical results of prior school closures in Japan and ITALY, which is the literature I'm familiar with him sure, there's a even vaster literature on this suggests that react to school clothes is help, but the real problem are. The real dilemmas is whether we should have pro active school closures, and- and this is much more difficult decision, but but for my eye, something we should be doing frankly. And the reason is that, if you imagine yearned de lis Jensen, let's not pick a major, let's not pick New York or Miami yet because that's another whole kettle of fish would spit amid sized town. For the sake of argument, if you believe that the moment someone in your school is going to the moment summit, if you believe that the moment someone in your school get sick, you are going to close the school
probably what you really should do, as is the moment someone gets sick in your community or or in what is known as the epidemiologically relevant region. So if you believe that, if you believe that the moment someone gets sick in the epidemiologically relevant region, you know your town, you're gonna, then in events, will afflict your school. Then the more rational policy is as soon as someone gets sick in your community shut, the school. Why not You're gonna shut it anyway to weaken, focus your schools gonna be afflicted, but if you jump the gun and shut it, you actually might radically improve the course of the epidemic. In your committee body and soul- and there is actually amazing evidence about this. So so again, just to crystallise the point. Let's say you, you set some threshold and we can discuss the threshold is some number of cases in some specified area in your town or an adjoining town or a case that you know is not an important case is not like someone flew from ITALY to your town and presented with the disease, but instead you find what is known.
The community transmission, someone who has the disease and you don't know where they got it. That means a diseases loose in your community. If you set as a threshold one such case or to such cases, in your town or in a nearby town. You could then proactively, crook close your school, and then you would have much bigger benefit than the reactive closure, and there was a wonderful analysis that was done of forty three cities in the United States during the nineteen eighteen epidemic, which very carefully examined What's these cities, when did they closer schools with respect to the pace of the epidemic? for how long where they closed it found, for example, if you use a threshold how far in advance of the epidemic reaching, if you created standard of. You have twice the level of respiratory deaths as usually have in Trier years. You have access debts. How far in advance of hitting that twice
twice the amount level did you close your schools. It found that actually districts that closer schools in advance proactively had dramatically lower death rates in the end, and so, for example, there's a comparison between Saint Louis in Pittsburgh, Saint Louis closely. Schools in the nineteen eighteen influenza pandemic earlier and longer, and it had less than half the death rate of Pittsburgh, for example, ultimately run any fewer people died, so So this is the issue, and this is what hard, but in general, my own, biased. My own opinion is that proactive school closures makes sense, I completely agree with you there and it is one meme being spread, which is perhaps entirely factual, but I would argue missing. Herbert it, that is giving people comfort around this idea that we can just keep the schools humming along the side
The kids aren't getting this or forgetting that they're not getting a bad case of it, and then that's great. That seems to be true thus far, but it also seems true that they could still care red and pass it to the rest of the communities of the greatest coming home from school and hugging grandma and correct the severe, different disease. One grandma get us that's exactly right and in fact it is the case that everything we just said about school closure is especially important when kids themselves might die, but the requirement that kid's be sick. Not the critical point. Schools are areas of congregation of large numbers of people, including all the adults, the parents, at the drop off that the teachers and the kids are little vectors here
and so so, and incidentally, it as long as we're talking about like the vow to school closure work, one of the ironies about one of the ways of school closures. Work, paradoxically, is precisely because they compel adults to stay home right, so models that of model. This have said: ok, what happens when we require the kids to stay home, so we we reduce. We reduce social plumping, mean our society because requiring the kids to stay home, but let's assume that ten percent of the parents fifty percent of the parents or ninety percent, the parents are staying home as a result of the school closure in it and, unsurprisingly, that also has a further effect. The number parents, as they already so much of this psychological images. Take that fact. I just mentioned that some comfort is being taken in this idea that this is not preferentially targeting kids rather its targeting old people, but if you feel, that around. If this were a flu that had a
inordinately high mortality rate, that was targeting kids preferentially or we would, of course, the schools already I'm that we would be debating, we go closure. Well, we might yes, we might have, but others. Another kind of kind of more oil issue here, you're right that very good data. We now have on the mortality rate of how it varies by age, so young people, one study of five thousand koreans- shows that basically nobody under the age of thirty afflicted with a condition died in that study and another study of forty four thousand Chinese. I think, showed a case. Fatality ratio of zero point, two percent, so two out of a thousand young people, might die not still bad. I mean that's a high risk of death for young person, but the number rises quite dramatically so by middle age. It's one to two percent of people die and by over the age. Eighty its let's say: roughly twenty percent of people die. So, yes, your correctly summarizing the situation, but one of the things that distressed me in reading all this is that
I too, like most people, would prefer that the young be spared in the old, the afflicted, but the older members of our society too. There are our neighbours, our parents, our teachers. I mean it's hate. This idea that all well just like afflicting all people who cares it's ridiculous committees are human beings are so so to say. This is again a situation which we can talk about the epidemiology of the condition, but I don't think we should lose sight of what's happening, which is that people will die from his condition, but, let's tackle another mean here, which seems to be doing an inordinate amount of work and people's reaction there's an end. It does seem at this point frankly misleading, which is the idea that This is essentially just like the flu here, some of them factoids that the commonest this
one is fifty thousand people die every year in the United States from flew in twenty eighteen like eighty thousand, which I think is the worst here in recent memory, so comparatively we about four thousand people you just nearly four thousand people have died worldwide from corona virus. Thus far, this really is a tempest in a teapot. If we were tracking the flu, who were the same paranoia that we're tracking this will. Then we would be alarmed every day of our lives and then also there's the fact though, the mortality rate of this seems higher the flu. It also seems if that were not tat, Dane widely enough to know what the actual denominator is to properly calculate the case? Vitality right? So he has been reported that, it is high as your three and a half percent now I'll, be there at high, but then their estimates, the seems like the most sober estimates are more like
You know half that in between one and two percent, but there seems to be the expectation. On the part of many people that at the end the day we're going to recognise this is just another flew essentially running in parallel with the flu we deal with the year after year and nobody free
sad about it. Nobody close at the school's. What are your thoughts on that? Yeah, I think that's all wrong and I can explain why. So, first of all, let me back up and say a couple things, a bunch of things. First of all, if I told you that motor vehicle accidents were leading killer in our society and they are about thirty, five thousand people died motor vehicle accidents every year and our society is very gravely concerned about these desk. We reinvest huge resources and improving the safety of our roads and cars. We have enormous campaigns and penalties for people who drive under the influence we cry and are sad. When we read about motor vehicle death and the public health community in our government in the people on the street, they spend enormous resources and attention and driving down one of these leading killer.
Our society, and if I told you that I could wave a magic wand and remove that cause of death tomorrow, many people would be amazed and excited an incredibly proud will right now we are in the midst of adding such a cause of death in the case of the corona virus, that is to say, our best estimates are most optimistic estimate. Is that only thirty five thousand Americans are going to die of this kind,
vision, so we'd just added a whole other extra cause of death to the list of things that kill us right now in our society. So I just don't see that the reason for nonchalance or optimism with respect to a new condition, a new killer that Michaelis imagine if, instead of being quote something that sounded so benign as influenza or the flu. Imagine instead, if I said it was Ebola modular panic that people would feel. If I said we now have Ebola loose in our country, killing thirty five thousand people. So I totally reject that. Furthermore, there is a wide range of estimates as to how many people will get infected and the end or die. And this is still were in early days in its difficult in this difficult for people for its difficult for me to speak for myself, because I dont want to be alarmist. You know- and I dont want to over us. You made it than have people call me to tat
I can say: oh you, you know you were chicken little and you know you were an alarmist and and in all and Anne and then maybe lose some credibility. Let's say But then I had, I dont want to minimize it an underestimated end, and then people say why didn't you warn us your? Why did you tell us? You should have been in a position to know you know you ve been studying this topic and related topics for so long and, of course, is only gonna. Be one outcome: it's not like I'm making a thousand predictions and, on average on correct or other experts who were in similarly situated as I am there's gonna, be one outcome in it'll, and so we have to speak in terms of a range of outcome, so at the most optimistic- and I think we'll have over a million Americans, in fact with his pathogen and perhaps thirty five thousand dead, but that's just at the most optimistic and the much more likely scenarios or are equal we likely or other possible scenarios move up the range so, for example, Mark Lipsitz, a very famous epidemiologist at Harvard who an expert in this area.
Estimates and he's revising his estimates as more data comes in, but he has two mates as of last week that perhaps twenty to sixty percent of Americans will ultimately, over the course of a year, be infected with this path. And if we use the lower bound of his current estimate, twenty percent, that means sixty million Americans will be infected and if we, it was a lower bound of the case, fatality ratio, which is zero point five percent. That means three hundred thousand Americans are going to die of this condition and that is like one of the top three killer, racket states so and that's within the realm of the. Possible- I'm not saying that's gonna happen, but I'm saying we need to sit up and pay attention, because that is possible
you know it's not of extremely unlikely event, and it could even be worse than that. Honestly, you now, I dont think you know you forced me to predict what do I think we have done in America's. It seems so inconceivable to me, but look what's happening in ITALY. Sixteen million Italians are now under lockdown. Their hospitals are our full to the brim. What makes us think we're so special We think we're different than the Italians are than the Chinese were not know. Y know the true. The truth is, we are different from the Chinese, and this is another mean that is doing some mad work in the brains of otherwise very smart people. I, u inside a stand for doktor reference, China as it source of optimism and China has the spread of the disease has been fairly well contained. It seems at the moment, as you know, the fatalities are dropping off insofar as we can trust the information come how to China, but that's true. Yet it seems to be true, but it is also true, is that China just executed
the most draconian quarantine, perhaps in human history and We are not poised to be poised to do anything like that ever yet. Some am actively writing about. Just that and according to New York Times reports, seven hundred million Chinese have been an under some form of house arrest. You basically for the last year since January, the twenty fifth, so these people are basically homebound and you that's extraordinary. Yeah me has just an extraordinary drenches up and it is the case the Chinese have driven miraculously driven their cases down to about a hundred a day, road which is unbelievable in the whole nation. But it's it's through the imposition of such up such a cordon, sunny tear these aren't technically on a quarantine according ass, when you put sick people incorporating when you were a healthy and sick people. It's a cordon, sunny term, which is what they ve done right, rifle the lesson to draw from them, and it seems to me that we can draw
no real comfort from that, because not reproducible they miraculous would have to and in our society for us to emulate that any way again. It seems the kind of that need not be accomplished at the point of a rifle in China, but the idea that we're going to accomplish it just by getting it into our thick heads that we should practise social distance into that degree. It seems very far fetched. What we should anticipate is a much freer spread of this contains.
And in our society. Here. Yes, although and will come back to this, I'm sure what can people do and I'd I'd absolutely think we American should be practising social distancing eye on twitter. You know a been talking about this for quite a while sensible policies of you not not engaging in any non essential travel not going to meetings washing your hands, not hugging or no. You know instead, Boeing or doing them ass not are something not touching people, not handshaking, which very instinctive our societies are all basic things. All Americans, in my view, should be implementing now and the reason we do this incident. We just to be very clear. It's not just so that you dont get sick. When we do these things, we interrupt the contagion, change chains that flow through the network. The words were stopping the virus in its tracks by interrupting the means with which it spreads from person to person. So the reason I dont shake your hand is not just about. I dont get sick, but that is not having shaking your hand
I block all paths of the virus from you to anyone else. I might need in the future and that extremely effective and social distancing repeatedly has been shown to be an effective tool called Non pharmaceutical and invention, but I want I want to tackle one other thing which relates to perhaps another me on your list. I don't know, which is this claim that the trumpet Ministration cessation of international flights, you know was was it was effective, and this has been studied for an extremely long time, by scientists of all stripes and just a quote one analysis. Typically. Countries are not aware of the emergence of a pandemic until, let's say the thirtieth day of the disease which is it again a roughly what happened in this country? With its corona virus epidemic by the time, the disease
urges and will haunt around the late December it spreading throughout the district in the prefecture who Bay, for you know at least a month or so, and before you know some, we let's say we say, would no more flights from you know China or something. But I again here economics ways against the people are reluctant to do this, but the point is that it's been studied repeatedly. Wow effective is, cessation of international flights on day thirty of a pandemic and I'll just read you some numbers. So if you stop ninety percent of the flights on day thirty of a pandemic, you delay the peak in the epidemic in your country by about ten or twelve days. If you stop ninety nine percent of the flight, you delay the peak of your epidemic by let's say twenty
six days and if you stop ninety nine point, nine percent of the flight, you only have one out of a thousand might still coming into the country. You only delay the peak by forty two days. Now, that's good delaying the pieces But it's not the panacea that we're gonna stop the thing at our border because it still gonna come to us. Either already came to us by the time we stopped the flights and its now brewing, or we cannot totally hermetically sealed our country. So it's going to afflict so this this fantasy, that Yet somehow in an age of pandemics, stop them at our border is, is not justified by the epidemiological, all right. Let me just say in defence of Trump the one decision I want a durance attributable to him that I don't follow him for me it seemed like was worth a shot. Why not try to delay it that way if you can but yeah amateur. I take all your
Well, Boeing? Earlier yes, but earlier we were talking about how we economic considerations might lead us to not close down school years. But here economic considerations do not lead us to abandon the effort to stop flights, and yet the school stop it is known to be effective, whereas the flight stoppages no not to be enacted. Oh no, no, no point taken a matter which should be fine, and also and retire, but let's talk about the timeline, second, because I want to just get bearings here and it is interesting to consider my own son. The logical time line as these events unfold so, as you said at the end of December actually December thirty, first, the World Health. Organization reported that there was this mysterious pneumonia, in China that seem to be associated with the work on live animal market. Perhaps we can just I threw all political partisanship here. And agree that eating bad?
and penguins is a bad idea, can we agree on that? We don't think people were eating bats. We do think they waiting penguins in it and the penguin thing is still a little bit on you will. Firstly, yes, you wish, I don't think we should be using those things correct, but but just to be clear for your listeners, it's not the sort of the case of people were eating those animals. It seems like it's still a little bit unclear that the virus spent part of its time in pangolins. All the way to my knowledge has still not been resolved but its fairly clear, that originated in bats, and this is also a bit of a mystery like even in the movie contagion. The disease begins in a ban that drop some spit on a pig. You know, I think it's sort of what is set up at the end, that movie, but one speculation is at the immune system, a bad as may be very similar to the new system of humans. I've robots are mammals and that when viruses adjusted immune systems of bats, when they then somehow leap to us, there already well adjusted to infect that's a theory. So
All of you who are against cultural approach asian. I think I'm with you here. This is culture that we should not appropriate. So I'll, get back to a timeline herself, so Jim They worry eleventh China announced the first death in MILAN then January twenty first we had the first confirmed case in the U S and was a man in his thirty's. I believe who actually travel old from Will Han and
came ashore here, so that was ten days after we heard about the first F genetic studies. Now, reconstruction using genetic, followed dynamics are suggesting that there were some transit, and this goes back to the stopping the air travel and sample your discussing that we can use the genetics of the cases in Seattle and know what we know about mutation rate, to reason, backwards and discern how many introductions worthier into Seattle and roughly, when my understanding of the status of that science right now is that roughly in the middle of January, someone came from, will harm to Seattle, and then disease started having what we called community spread that
personally, I dont know who they are, but the disease was then transmitted to other people and then still to others and then eventually they the epidemic broke. You know a couple of weeks ago and from January thirty of the World Health Organization had declared a global health emergency which they only than six times since nineteen forty eight sown in January thirty of his when people who, whose job it is to keep watch over these things decided that this thing was in global and we had to worry about it now and it seems like we had at least a month in on some people would say we had to form HANS, but we had at least a month here to get our barons and prepare assuming that community spread was already happening and that the are things like school closure would be were things we need to think about, and now I have a couple of timelines wherever over time line of trumpets and
insides at the end of it or if every twenty fourth Trump announced at the corona, Iris is very much under control in the USA and then he said crying chuck humorous complaining for publicity purposes. Only that I should be asking for more money than two point: five billion to prepare for thrown a virus, the end it was just to Absolute Lee transparent. Layer of political obfuscation and messaging essentially to the stock market rather than providing real information about this virus February. Twenty six we had the first case of commute transmission in the. U S, there was acknowledged, I'm sure it happened before that, but this is when we were talking and on that same day we ve got tromp saying I don't think it's gonna come to close it. Schools, especially the fact that were going down, meaning the racist transmission and death are going down not up and then This is more of a quote: we're going very substantially down not up? We have
so well under control. I mean have really done a very good job. The other stuff just really is Well, let me that's a lie. That's a lie, I mean it's not true in and it's really respond the August there. That's two things are responsible, not doing anything or not doing enough is irresponsible and then misrepresenting this duration is irresponsible, right yeah. So this is where I come to my own psychological time I think that it is spent fascinated from NATO my own mind here and watch my sense of this issue change and cease to second guess my national reaction to it, and so I went back and law. At my emails and texts over the last few weeks, so I can see that than on February twenty. Second, I was thinking about cancelling some upcoming trips and still feeling fairly crazy about even thinking that way. And by February Twenty seventh, five days later, I cancel everything right and so on
exactly ten days ago were recording now and on March Eighth, so Francis Ten, years ago, TIM Fair and I who we were both supposed to speak it south by South West. He was gonna interview, May for an episode of his pipe ass. He and I decided to pull out of the conference and it was widely perceived at. A moment again just ten days ago to be slightly paranoid and it was perceived among my circle of friends to be slightly paranoid. Sam is being alarmist again exactly you know eight days later. You know that is two days ago. The whole conference got cancelled. Yes, So I've been feel I've been watching this unfold been feeling moral, ass a week ahead of where everybody is or least most of the people who I am communicating with most of what society is marrying back to me. Hemmed your way ahead of worthy the president is by more second
tromp said that we had a great meeting today with a lot of great companies and we're gonna have vaccines, I think relatively soon, okay, so his problem in a vaccine soon, whereas the the only reason no promises that maybe by the first quarter of next year, what's the most, of time line that we could have a widely distributed I would say a teen months friend: it's we don't have any other vaccines against corona viruses right. I mean the cook common cold, corona virus. If we could stop the common cold, people would make billions of dollars for a common cold vaccine. You do you think that pharmaceutical companies have been trying. I'm sorry the comical this, many viruses. There are some twenty five percent, yet ok, so I mean I've heard that the most opt in The time line is a year from now. Yet it probably will be some kind of inactive virus vaccine that will have so did their difficulties. You don't have to grow that we have to get caught me. There's a lot of steps involved in being able to produce such a vaccine. That's cool
right, so yeah tromp on again six days ago, saying that only one hot spot and that's pretty much in a hole. As you know, in a nursing home, but this is obviously a point after which The CDC had already announced community spread in or again in California at least it is useful to key keep reiterating how unreliable the administrations talking points of view and saw him here again six days ago, we have from saying so we have found there are hundreds of thousands of people they get better by no just sitting around or even going to work, some even go to work, but they get better right. Mrs Trump talking so slop I believe this was an interview on Fox that it seemed like. He was saying that it was ok to go to work, even if you have this virus right, yes, which is right, so and then the final, this was truly It has Mc Oracle on March sixth justice,
two days ago. We have him at the CDC, wherein it keep Amerika great, a hat, and he say things like I love this stuff. I really get it. People are really surprised. I understand the stuff every one of these doctors said how do you know so much about maybe I have a natural ability now pause for a moment in this maybe rightly perceived as points corn against president, but images pause for a moment to reflect on the fact that It is extraordinarily unlikely that even a single doctor, said anything like that to be standing. In front of all these doctors or certainly line about what they said to him in the middle of a press conference, but even if they sycophant asleep, said something like that to him. The real problem is the believing that example. When I take my, I know a lot about certain things, and I know what I dont know, especially my feel them with extremely aware of my ignorance in my own field. But there are things I know about, but when I did my card the mechanic or when I need to have you no fibroids surgery, I trust
those people like, I don't think I know more about how to fix a car than my mechanic. That would be just at the height of arrogance and presumption or what I could go to my son Can I I have my so. What do you think? We should do, and I trust that the person has devoted their life, to acquiring this expertise and that's the whole reason I'm going to an expert. So the idea that President Trump, who may be us your business man and maybe a skilled politician that he would think that he knows it s much about epidemiology as the people at the CDC, the real problem. There is the narcissism in this individual, not even what the sycophant dish behaviour that may have led him to that conclusion. So it it's. You know it's it's its astonishing to me, that someone would- and I think this is a broader problem in our society right now- both on the far right none of the far left the sort of degradation of expertise. This idea that you know that the right doesn't trust experts, because they only want to think that everything is a political decision and the FAO,
left to actually feel similarly actually about exports. They don't like the hierarchy, didn't like they do that. Someone knows more than you do, but this absurd near in our society is that some of the best scientists, if not the best scientists in the world, we feel we have the best soldiers in the world. Did you start those guys experts at doing battle? You know we feel we have all these people that are really terrific. We feel we have the least corrupt judges in the world. We have expert judges, you pick we think we're great at it. Are we really gonna throw that out? Are we really going to think that there is nothing to say about the role of expertise? I think that so I think this is me guide. I think this is a moment where most people are going to acquire a taste for expertise. Healthy respect. You, let me go easy: we're waiting for experts to produce a vaccine for this thing. Yes, that's right, Joe Schmo is not gonna, be producing a vaccine in his garage. I can assure you
accede in his garage. I can assure you like that that religious figure a block in his name. That was saying that you can do. He was literally hawking some kind of substance that would cure corona virus. He said, and it was like that- that awful character and contagion that was selling for signature This is the end of this year, but it is another thing. The analogy to a movie is disconcerting here, because this is playing out. A bit like a movie and you can feel like at several points it's here along the way I felt like? Ok, I'm the guy in the first act of the movie, whose having an inappropriate Aubrey at least sanguine response to facts. That should be fairly alarming yes and still in our who knows what part the movie wherein here but its yes, a disconcerting comparisons. Only with the last thing that Trump sat at this press conference which was truly appalling. Was anybody who needs a test, gets a test, anybody that needed test as of right now and yesterday, anybody the needs a test can get one
now he was. He was saying that at the moment, when Most glaring feature of this crisis was the utter failure the government to provide tests at scale rights, and- and I figured something like two thousand tests performed in the country at that point in the city. See wasn't even answering the questions from the press about how many tests had been performed in there had to be reconstructed by asking everyone at the state level. What had happened so may perhaps people who only follow the president and his two your feed and watch Fox NEWS can be forgiven for not understanding what the situation really is, but we have to break out of this political bubble and just encounter the facts here, insofar as we can understand them and I've, had a slightly weird angle on just what we were not finding out about this in real time, because you know I'm in LOS Angeles
the longest time. The number of cases in allay according to the Johns Hopkins website, were reported to be its Heaven, but I happen to know I haven't and no a person who was seen in ITALY with five friends and they all got it and they all got on a plane and probably infected half the plain, and they got back here and now at least two of them are hospitalized only no one. Member of this group is not a close friend, but he's a very friend of a very close friends. I have a very close friend talking to his very closely. On a daily basis. Who has this thing? Whose is that a moment where I'm hearing that their seven cases, in LOS Angeles and apparently I know five of them, he was very unlikely, Also hearing that this thing is in reasonably healthy people people are not immune compromise or people are not eighty years old. This is just like the flu: well, this friend of a friend is
now hospitalized and on event a later and his other friend, is hospitalized and in an induced coma. I think, because the coffin associated with it was so bad and so again this is. I am well aware that none of these are two anecdotes and this is not really data but from the sword ground level experience of just hearing these stories once removed This isn't see me like an ordinary flew amid these guys are both extreme scares, their fit and fifty years old, they're, not in the cohort that you'd think would be on death's door associated with a flu, and so was just linger on. This claim that honest I've heard it from doctors in social situations I had a doctor, say to me: well, maybe she's I'll all get this thing. We're gonna get it anyway and we'll be fine, you know your fit. Samuel, you'll be fine. What are you
say to this notion that this is basically the flu. Well, it's not the flu. We know it's, not the flu. We know it's more severe than the flu. First of all. Second, this I've been thinking about this issue, which is like if you're gonna get it anyways it better to get it sooner rather than later and its deftly better to get it later, because this is. This relates another topic which I can remember if we discuss already, but I've been time of this notion of flattening the epidemic you're, so you. So, if you imagine that you have a pulse of disease, that's hitting our society so that your million people are gonna, get sick. Those million people could get sick in a very peaked way like over the course of a month. But if we implement social distancing and other procedures like school closures and we flatly epidemic. So we still get a million people sick, but now there sick over six months, so that you know we have
smaller number of cases on any given day it decompress is the demand on our health care system and on our supply chain, so that we can actually cope with people who are sick and need ventilation. So flattening the epidemic is a really important, fundamental idea and opening the ology, which is one of the reasons we engage in what is called non pharmaceutical interventions like social distancing in school closures and all that stuff. That's why we need to do it to flatly becoming so that if anyone get sick, they get sick. Few personal any. Given day and we push the cases out into the future, so that sir- fraction of those cases occur at a time in which we have discovered, perhaps some drugs that could treat the disease or have a vaccine available. So we never get those cases because we postpone them so far, so there many benefits to flattening the epidemic now when you flatly epidemic is also the case that the people at the beginning, they also warrant
what are you having the heavy demands on the healthcare system? So maybe if you're gonna get it, if you get it six sooner, you know that might be a sensible strategy, but actually neither from the individual nor from the collective point of view, have been able to discern any wisdom in that, because of all. You might not actually get sick anyway, so rushing to get sick now, you're sort of stupid, you? You know you you're, not everyone is gonna, get the disease and second, if from a public health point of view, to encourage people to get sick. Now you might actually compressed the epidemic. You know, you're, going to you're create an a pulse upon a pulse of disease, so so no I don't agree with your friend for multiple reasons in what they said just to be clear: that a disease ease that has a five or ten or fifteen or twenty acts higher mortality rate than the flu, who is very unlikely to be just like the flu
yes- and we haven't see this this pathogen before it's a new pathogen for us and there's a whole other list, a telegram, if there's a whole other debate about whether the path, typically these pathogens mutate and get milder as they adapt to our species and as we fight it off also, they tend to kill off the more vulnerable members of our species to this path it's all very sad and clinical honestly, but its end, but we also recognise the light we likely to be waves of this condition, so we're right now at the beginning of the first wave of covert nineteen, but you know probably we're going to see a second wave and even a third way, perhaps and that's very common for these types of pathogens near so I just want to reiterate the point that you just made, but I just don't want to get lost because it is probably the most important point here, which is even if we are all destined to get this thing or even if seventy five percent of us are destined to get it.
Getting it later is absolutely better. When you can see, the implications for our health care system. Yes, cause here, just the numbers- and we have something like a million hospital beds shrinking about the United States, there's something like two point: five beds for every thousand people. Two point, eight in our country and just to put some numbers in perspective in Japan. It's like thirteen point, eight beds person per thousand people right, so we have. We have bed capacity that much lower than many other countries we, Australia has more better than we do. We have about as many beds, England does per capita, but we don't have a great number beds per capita, that's correct route, and so just imagine in a situation where everyone gets is more or less all at once Israel, soon, army of illness. You have it the breakdown of the healthcare system. You have
There are just the lack of beds. You have doctors and nurses also getting sick right and unable to work. Yes, and that's also true, and we can look to China for what the dot, what the healthcare professionals and will Han have been doing, and I have friends there or friends of friends there, let's say or have. I have reports from their via indirectly and it's unbelievable what those doctors had they been working round. The clock, taking great personal risk, Give them have died and their exhausted, so it's it's serious and if you even look at Seattle right now, there is concern in Seattle, gonna run out of medical supplies to care for their patients. There we have of a regional sharing system and set up in our society so that if a hospital needs as a crisis and needs many dialysis machines are respirators. They can be loaned regionally. But when you have a pandemic situation, where there needed everywhere, we don't have the excess capacity for
for example, respirators. So it's a very serious situation were facing, and I hope I pray that we do not run out of respirators in our society, but but we need to consider the possibility we do that we don't have enough of them, and the fact that we are in that situation is alarming. Talk practically about what people can do and what likely to await us in the future. And it was just a few more questions about the disease. Or by the virus. This some questions we ve gotten from twitter
on twitter. Obviously- and I follow other people and I've been trying to send out rational information for weeks now to help people part of me. You know, as I noticed the breakdown is. I notice this interesting phenomenon, which many of my scientific colleagues have been sort of stepping up like earlier. We talk about other redirecting their laboratories to see how they could help the nation, but I have also noticed that many people are like tweeting on more information and I think they're trying to fill the vacuum, the lack of information or the spread of lies. So for weeks now, I've been trying to send out the most precise, scientifically accurate information that I can partly to help educate the public about different things, like social distancing, light Why does handwashing were like? What's the latency period for the virus? How does it spread what a reservoir the virus? What about school closer? These are all topics that I think the american public needs to be educated about. You you're, because the one about the prospect
of acquiring immunity for this once you have it yeah. I think there was some concerns that that people could be reinforced. The best data that I've seen so far suggested that either doesn't occur or its extremely unlikely, that is to say, once your infected and recover. You have immunity for some period of time, at least a few months, probably a few years that still not fully known, but the fears that you could be reinvested rapidly in their been some case. Reports of this those case reports were probably false. Negative tests, in other words, you have a condition he had positive tests. Then you have a name
of test, we think all your cured and then you have a positive test afterwards, probably what happens is that negative test was a false negative. Not that you were re, infected, wrote room, I mean even the fact that we're doing this podcast is a noble or makes me happy, because you know, I think you have like a million listeners or some huge number of people, and you could think of it as a public service. You know to try to get out some basically accurate information. I hope people listening to this will sink. What's the harm in my engaging in social distancing, I you know I could do for a week or two or three if, if it turns out that the epidemic fizzles out, oh, are you not just in shape people's hands for weaken, cancelled, a few meetings On the other hand, if it turns out the epidemic is, is large, I've done some stuff to protect myself and I made a contribution to the well being of our society when you social distance, when you and when you engage in these basic practices, your interrupting the flow of the pathogen through our society in Europe.
Part of that of a super organism miss. I argue this in my book. Your part of a collective that's engaged in a battle with this virus and you're doing your PA, It was put a fine point on that Recommendation because it this is advised that I have taken as of as of two days ago, so we decided to What are our girls out of school on Friday, so spring break is not for three more weeks You know we're starting now and we're going to him home school them and just to wait and see what happens right because it just seem like yeah The school was the weak link in are world and we have at least one person in our family. Who's got chronic lung disease, really can't afford to get this virus, so we decided we're just gonna pull up the drawbridge, and we are now going to practise fairly extra,
social distance into me, we're not going to restaurants, I cut all travel. The TED conference is broadly Cancel anyway, but on the twenty seventh February I pulled out of everything I was supposed to do. And we're just gonna lie low, but I'm half expecting this is going to be a fairly long experiment in social distancing about I'm wondering whether I just pulled my girls out of school for the rest of the year here, but it's hard to know for sure. But let me let me to a thought experiment with you. If, in fact, your girls were going to be pulled out of the school for the whole year, you have just add a couple of weeks to pulling them out, and those weeks may have been the why just weeks in the whole period right yeah sought me. I've been following your tweets and I took them to heart, and frankly I felt a little late just here and in the autumn, We think standing between me and doing it so days earlier was just a sense of social stigma. They say
I didn't want to be the first yeah. You know be alarmist right, you're gonna be like, but you know it's. These aren't that's the problem. You know these are one tied to urge everyone, everyone's feeling, some version of that. Yes, there Ilene paranoid and yet in affair, actual, even when they are taking steps which seem fairly extracted. The thing is but but what I want to emphasise is that it's not it's like so much else in our society has become polarizing dichotomy in people think you either people think in terms of dichotomy, sir, shades of behaviour. So we are not. I don't want anyone. Listening is podcast to think that you and I think that people need to you know, go to the woods to their bunkers or some. If not what I'm saying what I'm saying is that their fears, shape there's a range of behaviors from proceed as if there is no epidemic and go about your business as usual social interactions,
to total social isolation. You no sail off on a sailboat or something or whatever and in between, so what I am recommending is adopt some simple practices already that are in between that will reduce your own personal risk and help our society dont shake hands, wash your hands several times a day. For you know what is it? The wording is not till you sing, happy birthday twice, avoid all non essential, Travelin meetings just do those things it helps you would help for society and will no more in a few weeks as to what the situation is really like. That's a reasonable time The other way to think about it is just probabilistic late. If there are a thousand ways, you might get this thing. If you cut out nine hundred of them, you reduce your risk by ninety percent and, as you say, you ve blocked that path through society to other people. You're gonna be in contact with so The reason why most people can't do, that is to say the health argument is a straightforward, is just
an economic and social arguments pressing for so many people here, but nobody not hold on. I am not saying that people that the things I was recommending did not include yet a home. Yet what I'm saying is things that you can do right now are not essential travel, not essential meetings, handwashing avoid handshaking and physical. Attack. Those are things people can do and still gonna walk right. Anything that can be done from home probably should be from home. Rather many companies were piazza telecommuting and yes, yes, I would imagine, rainy- have not pull the trigger on that. Yet as a matter of policy. Yes, that's right, that's exactly right and also in the past. Let's say you shop for food three times a week now might be a tie to consolidate all your shopping list and go once a week ago in other different sorts of ways. You can manage your life to reduce social contact for a while until we see what's happening with this thing, that's correct, and I don't see that is alarmist. I think that's just common sense. You can do that, doesn't require you to quit your job or lose your income. Yet road
so a related question. There is, as we know what about panic and panic is bad well Arms me is that one government is clearly like in any of these press conferences. When the purpose is true, its parent. We Terry sure without actually giving good information is just use their just trying to dampen panic. That is. You know in the uncanny valley of reassurance, and it actually is just frankly alarming to see people obvious skating. The purpose of dampening emotional or arousal. So anything, the government and scientists should speak about this. Given that panic
and the reality of social contagion is also worth warn about. Yes, how do you think we ve been speaking about it? You think that when I agreed to come on, I was trying to make sure that I communicated factual information, but I was balanced and that I was not alarmist and I hope I have not been alarmist. I hope I've communicated factual information in a balanced way. Let my objective in your listeners- and you can decide that, but we have very sober minded scientists that speaking com and rational ways, for example, and in Doktor Anthony found she- and these are the sorts of people that if I were president, I would be putting before the public. These people will sort of like when we are when their matters of military importance. You know the generals that speak, they may be misinformed. They may not know everything, but they speaking in measured and serious, weighs about the matters of
military operations, and I think that's what we need right now and I and we have such people in our government in our society, and I think we should we should be listening to them and we should be allowing them to speak. It would be related benefit to social distancing. If we had a new norm around how people behaved when they were sick, with anything, will anything infectious, a cold or a flu. If people simply not go to work sick That would exert an evolutionary pressure on all these bugs to become less well symptomatic right. Well, I mean that's another thing related me that we should be doing our society if you don't have an essential health problem. You should not be, medical care right now, not only because you don't want to go to a healthcare and be exposed to other people, but in order to unburden healthcare system with the child.
He's did which was unbelievable as they move fifty percent of their medical care online. When the epidemic struck vague anyone that just needed a prescription refill, for example, they just started doing that online. You dont have to go to your doktor to get your heart medication. Just call your doctor and say: ok we're going to do that so rude decompress is the health system. Freeze the doctors and nurses up to do other stuff, that's more important and it reduces the risk of exposure mixing the social mixing, especially sick patients, so people listening to this, they should say you know I don't need to you know if I have, if I'm not seriously ill or I have routine healthcare stuff. I should help the my country by not seeking medical care right now. Now is not the time to do that here with the point was making. Is that if social distancing were the norm, whenever people got sick personally you didn't go to work when sick, that would eggs evolutionary pressure on all this bugs whether bacteria or viruses. I mitigate their
symptoms so that you know that calls wouldn't be as bad if you only spread them when they were truly almost undetectable. Here. From your point of view oh what do you do with the fact, though, that it seems people are infectious prior to be symptomatic in a perhaps for as long as two weeks, and that seems like a night off, it's too, I don't think it's that long. I mean we do
No, yet exactly that still unknown. So there too epidemiologically relevant facts here, there's something known as the incubation period. That's from the time your infected to the time, you're symptomatic and then there's something known as the latent period and that's from the time you're, not infectious to the time you become infection and the difficult thing is if the latent period ends before the incubation period ends. In other words, if you transition to being infectious before you transition to being symptomatic, we don't know for a fact yet whether a symptomatic corona virus patients can transmit the disease and, if so, for how long but the people actively working on it, but it's not more than a couple of days, even if it is by providing that's the case. That's worrisome near that means people are out, there are spreading the disease or that you're. The can't even use your own symptoms as a few risky for staying at home room
What do you see as the possibility of our taking extreme steps of the song that China, even ITALY, have taken at this point to contain the spread in Reno any given city or in a given region. Well, I don't, I don't, think it's culturally or politically viable for us to do what the Chinese have done. I don't know whether how similar we are to the Italians, my understanding of the authority that governors of our states have- and I dont know what the federal authorities are, but I'm pretty sure the state governors have authorities to basically shut stuff down in the public interest and enforce it. You know with within that with a state national garden, you know sort of you, no power so with would rightly power of quarantine exists in our society and a gun, not a legal experts. I I know, know the details of where those powers are vested and how are enforced
you know I can imagine that there would be a lot of political will to do such things if the situation got really bad in other, would be checkpoints on roads to reduce transit. The president can order the flights not to fly. You know- and this has been model dino internal restrictions on and on air traffic have been modeled as a way to reduce the epidemic. So I don't know I can't forecast what would happen, but but I We believe the government at multiple levels has the authority to do such things as it should. You know, as a society for trying to to confront this, we need to do it in an ordered, cooperative way. There's a point that I think we might have made, although perhaps we dropped it in depth Jade in this from influenza from everything we know krona virus. More infectious, then influenza stiff to two measures so that the so called are not or actually more precisely, something called the effective reproductive rate, which is the number in a steady state, the number of new cases
for every old case is people are estimating is between two inform so Don't know yet exactly how it isn't just to be clear. That number is is related to intrinsic properties of the virus, but is not solely determined by that. So, for example, that the transmission rate of a pathogen depends, for example, on the extent of social mix. Thing. If I suddenly obliged everyone to sit in a prison cell. If one person got sick, they wouldn't transmitted to anyone else it's it's something about how we organise socially- that determines the art the effective reproductive rate, and so so so we estimate right now that it's all round between two and four, which is high Chinese. At the beginning of the epidemic, there was a nice paper that we just written by a group of chinese scholars and collaboration with some investigators at the Harvard School Public health. At the beginning of the epidemic
If I'm remember these numbers correctly, they estimated the effective reproductive rate at around three point, eight. So for every sick person, three point: eight new sick people were created, but because of their social Engineering and China, where they have, as we discussed earlier, had seen an incredible quarantine. Basically, that's nationwide. They have driven that down to like below one and when you get the number below one. That's when the epidemic Peters outcome, because each the key does not replacing themselves what about the prospect that this is essentially always gonna be with us in a once. It's a pandemic- yes, that's what's gonna happen so if it's always with us and its much worse than flew and I M a flu. We need a new flu vaccine every year because the one didn't do the trick, because rights mutated what's a rational picture of the future, if, in fact, mistress keeps circling the rob and mutating yet either getting worse,
any better depend in what are we speaking as a harder here, it's hard to know for sure. Many experts believe that this will join the existing corona viruses that afflict humans or be like another another common called type virus. We we ve just now added a pathogen to the list of pathogens at circulates in human beings will become less. Is endemic. In always there in us it it's a little unclear. Still earlier, we discussed how the virus the virus might become less problematic. As time goes by. You know it is, it add apps to us and we we modify it with our collective immune system, seal fight yeah, so I don't think it's gonna disappear completely. I think it will remain in the human population. I it's hard very hard I am not willing to forecast how serious it will remain as time goes by, but you know I think, we're gonna have this current wave, which I think will be is there's a good chance. It will be serious.
And then we will have another wave or to an you know. A few years will know you know what is the status of this virus with respect to us, like other vice? Says that affect us, can you think of something we haven't touched? The way we should be normal. I think we ve covered. We ve covered a lot of things. You could you know some basic. Acts about the virus and in what it is that we can do you know we ve talked about. You know the prospects for pharmaceutical interventions versus non pharmaceutical interventions, which we clearly need to implement as a society. You know if we sort of benchmark the severity of the condition we talk about, flattening the epidemic, which has really important. You know we ve covered. I think the gamut of certain basic epidemiology as such as it is of of epidemic a pandemic influenza
I think I'd like to end on an optimistic note. I mean I think our species is not the first time is also really not sounding optimistic view. If you're going to the species will really our society is not the first time America has been afflicted with pandemic disease, and you know it. I think we, we will see the other side of this, but I think it's gonna take a lot of working together to address it. I think, it'll, take the full attention of our political leaders and of our scientific establishment. Our commercial sectors can have to rise to the occasion to build more respirators and more masks and whatever else we need in order to confront the the condition- and I think I think people on the street are gonna- have to adjust their lifestyle for a while in order to control due to our society in order to confront confront this disease and now all I hope that it is much milder. Then it could be
and others a range of outcomes as we discussed, and I hope it's on the milder end of that range. Yeah yeah, as do I certainly hope that my current state of mind scene like an overreaction. In retrospect, immediately they point and in my life that had an analogous feeling was nine eleven where it was like open This is a moment in history right. This is not life as you une you have taken for granted in a year after a year. I think this could be a moment in his I think it a few months will know whether in
in the early spring or late winter of twenty twenty? You know the world was afflicted with a pandemic and a serious pain. I can pandemic by the way, just means and an epidemic that strikes multiple region and you can have a mild pandemic or a severe pandemic. You know, that's that's a different topic, and so I think we'll know within a few months. You know how serious this is. I know, will all remember where we were when we first heard about it or if its mild, Forget nobody remembers very much about Sars and each one in one in maybe maybe that'll it'll go that way, and I hope it does. Ok, well, I will love be touching the star again, no doubt and thank you Are we talking about happier things at some point? I trust that. Thank you for her.
Transcript generated on 2020-03-23.