Helped to eradicate smallpox, and to make a film ‘Contagion’: an epidemiologist told how to win the coronavirus

Epidemiologist Larry Brilliant, warned about pandemic in 2006, says that we can win the coronavirus, but we still have a lot of tests. About it writes Wired.

Помог искоренить оспу и снять фильм 'Заражение': эпидемиолог рассказал, как победить коронавирус

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14 years ago, Brilliant, an epidemiologist who helped eradicate smallpox, has described how it will look in the next pandemic. At the time, it sounded too awful to take seriously.

“Sick would be a billion people, he said. — Died 165 million people. There is a global recession and depression, many people lose their jobs and medical care, the consequences are unthinkable.”

Now the unthinkable is here, and the Diamond, the Chairman of the Council for the fight against pandemics, says the experience with those who are on the front. We are far from the 100 million deaths due to the new coronavirus, but it has turned our world upside down. Diamond tries not to say “I said it” too often. But he said this not only in conversations and letters, but also as a senior technical consultant for a horror movie about a pandemic Contagion. In addition to working with the world health organization in the fight against smallpox, Diamond, who is now 75 years old, fought the flu, polio and blindness; became a non-profit wing of Google; co-founded the conference system Well; and traveled with the Grateful Dead.

Diamond lives in a six-County San Francisco Bay Area, where he was in a state of lockdown.

Back in 2006, when Diamond spoke, he focused on the need to make efforts to stop the pandemic.

“System, I asked, was created and used, says epidemiologist. But now we all watch the movie “Contagion” in reality”.

“People say that “Contagion” a prophetic film. All the epidemiological community in the last 10 or 15 years had warned everyone that we are not talking about whether we have such a pandemic, but rather when it will overtake us, adds Diamond. It is very difficult to get people to listen. The President of the United States Donald trump fired someone in the national security Council, who was the only person at that level who was responsible for protection from the pandemic. With him went his entire staff, and communication. And then trump has removed funding for early warning of the epidemic around the world.”

Diamond says that the virus is real and not underestimate him.

“The virus is brand new, and this means that in the world there is no person who would be immune due to it before. This means that it is capable to infect all 7.8 billion people,” says the epidemiologist.

“There will be tens of millions or hundreds of millions or more who will be infected with this virus, before it runs out, says Diamond. This is the most dangerous pandemic in our lives.”

Epidemiologist considers proper security measures and quarantine.

“Yes, this is the right decision. Isolation, closure of schools, cancellation of events — it’s all good. But can it protect us and to protect from disease, says Diamond. But on the other hand, such security measures are given time to create a vaccine. And we will get it in 12-18 months”

But according to Diamond, there is another scenario.

It may happen that a large enough number of people will catch the disease and become immune. In combination with the vaccine is enough to create herd immunity, which is about 70 or 80%,” says Diamond.

“I hope that we will get antiviral drug for Covid-19, which will treat the disease, but at the same time be preventive. It is certainly not proven, and it is a controversial issue, and many people will agree with me. But as evidence I offer two works in 2005, one in nature and one in science. Both were studied by mathematical modeling with the flu to see if reception only Tamiflu to stop the outbreak. And in both cases it worked. I also offer as evidence the fact that at some point we thought that HIV/AIDS is not curable and it’s a death sentence, says Diamond. — Then some wonderful scientists have discovered the antiviral medication, and we learned that some of these drugs can be given to the disease and to prevent it. Due to the large interest in Covid-19, we will make every effort, money and resources to the search for antiviral agents that have prophylactic characteristics that can be used in addition to vaccine”.

While the epidemiologist does not know exactly when life will return to normal and quarantine measures will be removed.

“There is really good news from South Korea and China. It will be very difficult to follow the Chinese model. We are not going to lock people in their apartments to put them. But the model of South Korea — is the one that we could follow. Unfortunately, this requires to implement a proportional number of tests they performed, they performed more than a quarter of a million tests. In fact, by the time when South Korea conducted 200,000 tests, we probably did less than 1000,” says Diamond.

But he says it’s not too late to change something and start mass testing to identify the virus.

“Tests will have a significant difference. We should do a random sample, to find out where the virus. Because we don’t know. Perhaps Mississippi doesn’t report about any cases because it does not test people. In Zimbabwe say they have infected, because they have no way of testing, not because they have no virus. We need to do something similar to a home pregnancy test, which you can do at home,” says Diamond.

To the question “If you were President for one day, what would you say at a daily briefing?”, epidemiologist said: “I’d started the press conference with the words: “Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to Ron Maple — he was the king of Ebola when President Barack Obama, and now I called him back and made him king Kovalam. Everything will be centralized under one person, who is respected from both public health and political community.”

Despite the fact that the Diamond has aged and is at risk, he said that he is not afraid of the coronavirus.

“I belong to the age group in which the mortality rate is one in seven, but I’m not. I firmly believe that the steps we are taking, will prolong the time required for the virus to infect large number of people. I think it also, in turn, will increase the likelihood that we will have a vaccine or we will have a prophylactic antiviral agent to reduce the spread. All must remember: this is not a zombie Apocalypse. This is not mass extinction,” says Diamond.

He said he also should not neglect the face masks, they really help to protect from the virus.

“The N95 mask is extremely good. The pores in the mask have a width of three microns. The virus has a width of one micron. According to the latest data I’ve seen, the mask provided a 5-fold protection. It’s really good. But we need to support the work of hospitals and medical professionals who can come to work and be safe. Therefore, the masks must go where they are needed most: during patient care,” says Diamond.

“The world will not look normal until three events. First, we find out whether the spread of the virus as the iceberg that one seventh over the water, or pyramid, where we see everything at once, says Diamond. — Secondly, we must have a working treatment: vaccine or antiviral agent. And third, maybe most important, when we see that a large number of people — in particular, nurses, home health workers, doctors, police officers, firefighters and teachers who have had the disease, were immune. Then we can safely send our children back to school, because we know that the teacher is not contagious.”

But, according to Diamond, there is in pandemic and advantages to mankind.

“I’m a scientist, but I’m also a believer. And I will never be able to look at something, not asking a question about whether there is a higher power that somehow will help us to become better versions of ourselves, what we could be? says Diamond. I thought that we will see empty streets, but the number of civic engagement more than I have ever seen. I see small children who voluntarily go to buy food for people who live alone at home. I see an incredible influx of nurses, heroic nurses who come and work far more hours than they worked before, doctors who fearlessly go to the hospital to work. I never saw the kind of volunteerism that I see now.”

“This is really unprecedented and difficult times that will test us. When we get through this, maybe, as during the Second world war, it will force us to reevaluate my life. The virus is equal opportunity for infection. And I guess we’d better because we’re all much more similar than we thought,” said Diamond.



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