China has launched a war against the coronavirus, or COVID-19. The country has mobilized thousands of medical personnel, restricted the movement of tens of millions of people and launched rigorous control measures – all in an effort to prevent a pandemic.
Full Frame speaks with experts about the deadly disease and takes a look at daily life inside Hubei Province, the epicenter of the outbreak.
Dr. Elmer Huerta, an expert on public health, says what’s been done in China since the start of the outbreak effectively has contained the spread of the disease to other parts of the world.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen if, for example, it goes to a country with a public health system that is weak…So far, the fact that 99 percent of these cases are in one area and all deaths, but one or two are in one area means that the containment is working well,” Huerta said.
Professor Kathryn Jacobsen’s research investigates new ways of tracking infectious diseases and detecting emerging outbreaks.
For now, many questions remain, including who is susceptible to the virus, how it spreads and the timeline of infection.
“This is just a confusing virus in the way it’s presenting,” said Jacobsen, a professor at George Mason University and the author of two textbooks on global public health.
“What we’re worried about with this is not the super spreaders. What we’re worried about with coronavirus is that people who don’t have symptoms who may inadvertently be infecting other people,” she added.
Jamie Metzl, a member of the WHO Expert Advisory Committee, examines how technology can be used to benefit our health. With new tools for diagnostics and gene editing, researchers will be able to move much more quickly toward developing a vaccine, he said. The caveat: It may still take a year for a vaccine to be available to the public.
Metzl said the virus is more infectious than previously thought. “We’re dealing with something that is probably more infectious than SARS,” he said.
Although the epicenter of the outbreak is China, the goal to contain the spread must be a global effort. “These are critical moments,” Metzl said.