Experts predicted a strain of the coronavirus could kill tens of millions of people in a warning three months BEFORE the deadly outbreak in Wuhan, China.
Scientists at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security modeled a hypothetical pandemic on a computer as part of research last October — their simulation predicted the deaths of some 65 million people worldwide in just 10 months.
The outbreak in Wuhan isn’t considered a pandemic yet, but the virus has been now been reported in 13 different nations — the U.S., France, Australia, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan,Canada, Vietnam, Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau and Nepal, have all confirmed cases.
According to latest reports coming out of China, the highly contagious disease has so far killed 41 people and infected around 1,300 others — but experts believe China is hiding the true figures–predicting the true number of those infected to be in the many thousands.
To their credit, China’s response has been swift, shutting down more than 14 cities around Wuhan–the central metropolis where the outbreak is originated:
However, you can look at China’s response in two ways: of course it’s reassuring to see the authorities trying everything in their power to get on top of the outbreak, but at the same time it’s also somewhat unnerving to see the level of desperation in the plan. The economic toll of putting tens of millions of people into lock-down is staggering. Do authorities know more about the deadliness of this strain than they’re currently letting on? Or is this response merely standard protocol–perhaps lessons learned following the SARS outbreak in the early 2000s?
And even despite such extreme measures, experts are divided over whether the steps will be enough to slow the spread of the virus. Billions of trips will be taken over the lunar new year holiday period, with many Chinese having already traveled before the measures were implemented.
FT reports that Ian Mackay, a virologist at Queensland University in Australia, said it was possible the travel restrictions would simply be a “Band-Aid” solution. “It has never been done before, there is no evidence this will do anything by shutting these people in. There is still the virus there,” he said.
Coronaviruses are infections of the respiratory tract that can lead to illnesses like pneumonia or the common cold. Dr Eric Toner, a senior researcher at Johns Hopkins, said he wasn’t shocked when news of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan in late December: “I have thought for a long time that the most likely virus that might cause a new pandemic would be a coronavirus,” he told Business Insider.
“We don’t yet know how contagious it is. We know that it is being spread person to person, but we don’t know to what extent.”
Dr Toner’s computer simulation back in October suggested that after six months, nearly every country in the world would have cases of coronavirus. And within 10 months, 65 million people would have died.
And there are MANY questions in desperate need of an answer:
Wuhan city recently developed a deadly pathogen research lab, to study ebola and SARS-like viruses — could the outbreak have originated here? U.S. bio-safety experts warned back in 2017 that a virus could indeed “escape” the facility.
Furthermore, could the influx of Cosmic Rays –due to the historically low solar activity we’re currently receiving– have anything to do with the mutation of this particular strain?
Could CRs have an impact in the strain’s evolution moving forward?
Stay tuned for updates.