Science and Data Lead the Way
In this No Spin Live Special Edition, experts discuss important data driven issues concepts surrounding the coronavirus / COVID-19 crisis. Drs. Charles Randquist of Stockholm, Sweden, Tom Wiener of Houston, Texas, David Sieber of San Francisco, and William P. Adams Jr. of Dallas have a lively discussion on the CVD-19 topic. All of these physicians are also scientists and have been involved in generating important data over their careers in the surgical fields, especially in plastic surgery.
To isolate or not to Isolate – That is the question
The experts review different strategies being implemented around the world, including contrasting total isolation/lockdown strategies of much of Europe and the United States versus a more selective strategy being used in Sweden to isolate the people at risk.
Putting the COVID 19 disease in Perspective
Dr. Tom Wiener from Houston makes a compelling point that in order to truly understand any new disease you must use the KNOWN data to put the new disease in context with established data versus other diseases. Dr. Wiener and Randquist quote known data on COVID-19 compared to the flu. As of the date of this publication global COVID 19 cases totaled 700,000 with 33,000 deaths vs. global flu cases 2019 – 20 totaling 1 billion cases with 670,000 deaths. The experts note that despite the vast difference in numbers no one ever hears much about the morbidity and mortality of flu. Dr. Wiener goes on to detail hospitalizations in New York City for COVID-19 21 per 100,000 persons versus flu 65 per 100,000 persons. The point is not to belittle COVID – 19 but to really put this into perspective.
Be careful about interpreting commonly reported COVID – 19 numbers and statistics
Dr. David Sieber makes several excellent points that readers should be very careful of interpreting for example statistics on number of cases or deaths as these need to be normalized for the population of a given country. He also makes the point that many media and social media outlets are doing a disservice to the public by printing sensationalized stories that are not backed by any data. The panel also notes that in the past 7 days there’s been a large increase in the number of expert physicians, virologists and epidemiologists who have come out stating that their initial predictions may have been too severe or that they believe the global strategies need to be balanced better with potential economic damages.
Lives vs Lives – NOT Lives vs. Economy
The expert panel also discusses the misnomer that people are accusing those who talk about the potential economic damages are prioritizing the economy over human life. The panelists emphasizes that this is not about lives versus economy but rather lives versus lives. It is important for readers to understand that in real life there are effects of total lockdown and isolation on the global economy, and when this is modeled there is a point at which the potential morbidity and mortality for the COVID – 19 virus will be dwarfed by economic consequences, which will include inability of patients to get regular or needed healthcare service, supply chain loopholes, suicide and other severe psychological effects. These are real life issues that clearly need to be thought through very carefully and there have been many more experts in the past week who have openly stated that initial predictions are likely not as severe in their recommendation is to get back to relatively normal lives as quickly as possible. This is also discussed by a lauded Stanford University Nobel laureate.
Herd immunity and the Future
The panelists conclude that there will be many reassessments of various global strategies over the next few weeks and that these can only be guided by data. The expert panelists make the point that over 50% of people have asymptomatic infection as current data has proven. This is called accumulation of herd immunity which is natures way of “vaccinating” the human population as it responds to disease. Strategies such as selective isolation of those who are old as well as those who have medical problems and these include people who smoke, heart and lung disease, and have obesity, is an essential strategy to facilitate the development of herd immunity in the general population. Furthermore, specific general problems beside age like smoking and obesity and associated secondary issues causes more deaths and takes resources from where it should be. Preventive health care, education and medicine will save lives.
In conclusion, data and sciences are king. The experts discourage the public from getting caught up into too much misinformation on many media sources and social media sites. All citizens should consider the recommendations by their local and federal governments as that is the way that we row all together in the same direction.