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Coming soon?

January 29, 2020

Whether a new disease can be contained depends largely on how contagious it is. The number of people in China infected with the new coronavirus just topped the peak of the SARS outbreak. And so far, shows small sign of tapering. See the graph, right. I fear Tom Frieden is correct when he says this virus is more contagious than SARS. I also suspect from that growth that the actual number infected is significantly greater than the number confirmed to be so. The bright spot is that would make the severity of the disease less than what the confirmed cases indicate.

Don’t let the bottom curve fool you. If the disease cannot be contained in China, it will not be contained to China. Travel restrictions may slow the spread, but won’t stop it. They may not be entirely political theater. Right now, they can be seen as an extension of other containment measures.

No one with an eye for numbers can read about the current state and say with confidence that is working. Yes, these still are the early days. That curve may yet taper. But it sure looks exponential. Public healthcare officials in other nations should be thinking about preparations, in case that trajectory holds.

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