Epidemic

No More Pandemics?

The Genomic Age responds to an outbreak in China

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Remember SARS? Back in 2003, this deadly coronavirus had jumped the species barrier (probably from bats) into human beings and was spreading across the world. People could pass along the virus via coughs and sneezes. Some 8,000 cases and 774 deaths occurred before public health measures quelled its spread.

SARS evidently broke out in November 2002 and began to spread through China's coastal province of Guangdong. By January 2003, a team of Chinese health experts had identified the cause of these new cases of pneumonia as a virus, but that information was kept as a state secret from the public and international health authorities. Effective public health measures were not implemented until April. The epidemic ultimately affected 26 countries, including 8 known cases in the United States.

At the time, I marveled that once samples had been sent to a lab in Canada it took researchers only 6 days to sequence the virus completely. Not only that, but researchers in Hong Kong devised a diagnostic test for the virus in less than two weeks.

What was a breakneck pace of discovery in 2003 now seems quaint in 2020.

Chinese health officials announced on January 2 (just two weeks ago!) that they had identified several cases of pneumonia in December caused by infections from a new SARS-like coronavirus. By January 10, Chinese researchers had posted the fully sequenced genome of the new virus at virological.org, a hub for prepublication data designed to assist with public health activities and research. On January 16, German researchers announced that they had developed and were releasing a diagnostic test to detect infections of the new virus.

So far, 41 people in the Chinese city of Wuhan have been infected; two of them have died. In addition, three cases among travelers to Wuhan have been identified in Japan and Thailand. But the swift implementation of effective public health measures in Wuhan may already have corralled this outbreak.

During the bird flu panic of 2005, I predicted that "as humanity's biotechnical prowess increases, we may never suffer through another pandemic again." The rapid response to this outbreak provides some heartening evidence for that claim.

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Epidemic China Biotechnology Coronavirus

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41 responses to “No More Pandemics?

  1. But the swift implementation of effective public health measures in Wuhan may already have corralled this outbreak.

    They keep fixing these population corrections they’re going to have to return to the one-child policy.

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  2. Global Warming will kill is all long before any pandemic virus does.

    1. No no no. The pandemic virus is released from melting ice caused by global warming.

    2. Global Warming alarmism is indeed pandemic.

  3. THE END OF PESTILENCE

    You jinxed us, Ron.

    1. Tom loaned some cockroaches to a lab, and they all ended up crushed and analyzed. When Tom complained, they said “It was the end of the pests you lent us.”

      1. Fuck off SQRLSY

  4. No More Pandemics?

    Seems overly optimistic. Where’s the doom and gloom?

    1. Remember the rule about headlines that are questions – the answer is always no.

  5. Of course pandemics will end, robots don’t get sick.

    1. You’ve never heard of a computer virus?

      On a related note, as The Exploited sang:
      “Computers don’t blunder!”
      Only the humans who program them do*.

      *See all the global warming models for evidence.

  6. Yes we can see how your betters are responding to disease like they respond to gun violence and restricting religion. In fact guns and religion are so close to diseases yet you clingers don’t see that. The new order will show you how, and you will comply.

    1. Ok, this is a pretty good parody. Keep it up.

    2. Really need a “like” tab.

    3. I thought the original was a parody.

      1. I’ve never quite been sure if the original is parody or not. Poe’s Law and all.

  7. One thing this shows, is China has learned it’s better to be up front with health issues, rather than hiding them as a national embarrassment, because then more die and the embarrassment is worse. The sin of pride has a price.

  8. #HailScience

  9. 1. You have to be able to find a CURE quick enough to stop a pandemic. Last time I checked we still can’t cure a lot of very common things like the common cold or flu with a magic pill or whatever.

    2. There’s also a matter of capacity. With a really bad flu, like the Spanish Flu that killed millions during/after WWI, the fact is even if we have the technology to save people in most cases, and we basically do for the flu… We don’t have enough capacity to deal with EVERYBODY when EVERYBODY gets sick at the same time.

    Another really bad flu could kill hundreds of millions of people simply because there aren’t enough ICU beds to give every person the super modern badass care we can provide in small numbers to save people from something like that.

    Throw in it being something that needs a genuine “cure” manufactured to the tune of billions of doses, if we can even figure out the “cure,” and you can still have mass death.

    So we might have some nasty thing pop up, and figure out its genome in a few days, and a test in another few days… But if it’s already traveled to 50 major cities on every continent before anybody notices it exists, none of that shit will matter.

    In some ways a mass pandemic might be the best thing for the world. Some genuine bad shit happening would snap people back to reality and out of all the SJW/First World Problems type whining that is ruining the world.

    1. In some ways a mass pandemic might be the best thing for the world.

      The immortal words of George Carlin.

      1. Yup! He actually was a pretty smart guy when he wanted to be.

    2. You don’t necessarily need a cure if you can develop prevention protocols. Face masks for the infected and immediate family, and frequent hand washing will go a long way.

      1. Sure, but that only goes so far with some stuff. My point is merely that if something proper nasty came along, we could easily still have mass death.

        1. Well, shucks, it some really nasty asteroid comes along, why, we’re in TROUBLE!
          See trueman below, and try something other than trivial.

          1. Ugh. My original post pointed out something that others had not mentioned genius. Namely the fact that even if we can cure something 100% we don’t have the capacity to actually cure everybody, because the infrastructure just ain’t there. That’s not trivial when discussing utopian nonsense like the article vs real world facts.

  10. Good work by public health in China and elsewhere.

    Coronaviruses. There is a decent wiki article. Corona means crown. They are single stranded RNA viruses. There is a protein capsule and spikes of glycoproteins radiating around the virus. Those enable it to attach to cell membranes in humans and other animals. Once in the cell they can replicate and exit the cell.

    Nice diagram here. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coronaviridae#/media/File%3ACoronavirus_replication.png

    We have all been infected by a corona virus. A common cold is most likely a strain of corona virus.

    What happened here is most likely an animal vector. The source has been traced to a meat market in China selling a wide variety of animal meat.

    The good news is that ability to respond to such an outbreak of a virulent deadly strain took little time compared to the past. China and other nations are much more advanced than in decades past. Professionals should have open communication in these events.

    It is not the end of infectious disease outbreak. It is progress.

    In my libertarian outlook there is every reason to support public health and international cooperation in small government.

  11. Meh. I drink enough alcohol to kill anything trying to invade.

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  13. “as humanity’s biotechnical prowess increases, we may never suffer through another pandemic again.”

    I wouldn’t count on it. Biotechnical progress is one thing, but the foot dragging, cover ups and denialism that characterized the Chinese reaction to the SARS outbreak, should cause concern. As the government harasses and prosecutes doctors and scientists who alert the public of the issues, pandemics proliferate.

    1. Oh, how SMART you are to suggest caution! Your mommy must be very proud of you, Mr. Obviousman!
      Get back to us once you have a comment which wasn’t posted by most folks here since it’s trivial in the extreme.

      1. Thanks for your input.

  14. During the bird flu panic of 2005, I predicted that “as humanity’s biotechnical prowess increases, we may never suffer through another pandemic again.”

    You so smart!

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  17. I always say the good thing about being a pessimist is that you’re always right or pleasantly surprised.

    But the good thing about being an optimist is you’re right until you’re dead, and then it doesn’t matter.

    1. Unless you put a specific date on your bad predictions! Too bad half the world isn’t under water from climate change already!

      1. Why don’t you put a vague date on when tax cuts for billionaires will start paying for themselves.

        1. Because they either already have, or never will, depending on what ya mean. We brought in more tax money than ever ALREADY. So total taxes paid went up still.

          If you want to talk about where they might have been, they’ll probably never make up for themselves… Which is fine. Because the government should be taxing AND spending less money.

          Also, too bad most people saw their taxes go down, not just billionaires.

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