Countries around the world are preparing for the possibility that COVID-19 will not be contained and becomes a pandemic. In 2018, the Harvard Global Health Institute published a framework for countries to assess their readiness for this exact scenario, the Global Monitoring Report, which now supports experts around the world and at the World Health Organization. On this page, we are following both China’s containment efforts and the international response.
A running list of the latest news from the worldwide response, updated in real time, by the New York Times team.
Assessing The Threat: A conversation with experts leading the response
How should we think about this outbreak and the threat it poses? At the Aspen Institute’s Public Heath Grand Rounds on Feb. 11, STAT’s Helen Branswell asks pertinent questions of some of the most experienced outbreak officials in the nation:
- Anthony Fauci, MD, Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (more from Dr. Fauci on where we are in the US and globally in our preparedness efforts, from his Outbreak Week 18 keynote )
- Ron Klain, JD, former White House Ebola Response Coordinator (more from Ron Klain on why the world is less safe today than during the 2014 West Africa Ebola outbreak from his Outbreak Week 2018 keynote)
- Nancy Messonnier, MD, Director, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (more from Dr. Messionier on vaccine misinformation at HGHI’s 2018 Outbreak Week)
STAT News | Andrew Joseph | Feb. 11, 2020
“Having a name matters to prevent the use of other names that can be inaccurate or stigmatizing,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization, when announcing the official name for the new coronavirus: COVID-19.
Question of the week: Containment or Pandemic?
More borders are closed, cruise ships reverted, cities on lock down. As China struggles to get ahead of the epidemic and containment efforts around the world are in full gear, the looming question remains: What if we can’t contain this new virus? Here are two great articles exploring the question.
Science Magazine | Kai Kupferschmidt and John Cohen | Feb. 5, 2020
STAT News | Sharon Begly | Feb. 4, 2020
STAT News | Damian Garde | Feb. 5, 2020
Efforts to develop treatments for 2019-nCoV are under way by various research groups in numerous locations thanks to the availability of synthetic partial genomes of the virus to be purchased.
To fight coronavirus spread, the U.S. may expand ‘social distancing’ measures. But it comes at a cost
STAT News | Shraddha Chakradhar | Feb. 3, 2020
As the U.S. confirmed its 11th case of 2019-nCoV, Shrradda Chakradhar elicits expert advice, including from HGHI faculty director Ashish Jha, and discusses measures that might be taken to help reduce the spread of the virus. Risk for U.S. citizens remains low, but preparations for a potentially worsening situation are being made.
STAT | Helen Branswell | Feb 1, 2020
Branswell, one of the leading infectious disease journalists in the world, speaks with Dr. Mike Ryan, head of WHO’s Emergencies Programme, about containment efforts and why Ryan believes the outbreak can still be stopped.
(In this video from HGHI’s Outbreak Week, Dr. Ryan talks more about his work.)
STAT News | Andrew Joseph | Jan. 30, 2020
After last week’s meeting of the same type, when WHO opted not to declare 2019-nCoV a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), evidence of human-to-human transmission in countries outside of China, including the US, Japan, Germany, and Vietnam has prompted the WHO to declare the PHEIC. This will help provide support for less developed countries to prevent and control the spread of the outbreak and could spur a more unified global response. Read the whole story by Andrew Johnson.
In this short video on the LSE Health Policy Twitter page, Stephen L. Roberts, Fellow in Global Health Policy, and Clare Wenham, Assistant Professor in Global Health Policy, discuss the importance and potential downstream effects of the language used by mainstream and social media during an event like this novel coronavirus outbreak.
LSE Health Policy Department | Stephen L. Roberts and Clare Wenham | Jan. 30, 2020
The Atlantic | Ed Yong | Jan. 28, 2020
There have been numerous numbers circulating on social media, all of which refer to the R0 of the current novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) that is currently spreading. R0 represents the average number of people who can be expected to catch a disease from one infected person. An R0 of less than 1 indicates that an infection will likely fizzle out. Ed Yong discusses the implications of the various 2019-nCoV R0 calculations that researchers have produced and why these numbers are not only inherently difficult to interpret, but also inherently difficult to calculate, especially at this stage of an outbreak. The widespread distribution of this type of information without context, and the way that these numbers are interpreted — or misinterpreted — can be quite problematic.
Hillary Beaumont discusses how Canada is looking to past coronavirus outbreaks to address the most recent iteration. Both Canada and the world have learned a great deal from handling the SARS and MERS outbreaks. She notes that virus detection, communication within and between countries, screening of patients, and training of those on the frontlines have all drastically improved since we were combating SARS.
Aljazeera | Jan. 29, 2020
Carolyn Johnson discusses the speed and transparency with which the global scientific community has attempted to understand what this virus is and how it spreads. We have seen outbreaks before, but we have never seen a response like this.
The Washington Post | Carolyn Johnson | Jan. 24, 2020