Julia Lowe, Suffolk Park
Peter Olsen (Letters 12 February) should not willfully spread conspiracy theories about COVID-19 (the official name of the novel coronavirus) for which he has cherry picked facts.
Dr Francis Boyle is a lawyer not a physician or scientist. Claims that COVID-19 is a bioweapon are false. So are claims the first cases were not related to the fish market (read the full set of The Lancet articles).
Dr Joseph Wu’s article in the Lancet was an exercise in modelling the epidemic. The numbers are speculative, not verified. Most cases are mild, so many people may not be diagnosed. Numbers stated in the media come from the World Health Organisation and are confirmed cases.
Dr Jonathon Read’s paper was also a modelling exercise published as a ‘preprint’ ie: an early draft of research. It included some estimates of the number of people infected per case, that have since been revised down, leading to a lower (but still speculative) number.
‘These are very early models that make several assumptions based on what evidence is available,’ said David Heymann, an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in The New York Times. ‘They aren’t truth – they’re just one step in trying to better understand this outbreak.’
The case fatality rate of COVID-19 seems to be less than three per cent, much lower than SARS which killed around 10 per cent of those infected. It is spread by droplet infection – coughing and sneezing contaminating surfaces – or inhaled directly from a close contact. Wash your hands frequently and stay away from people who are coughing and sneezing.
Mr Olsen is correct in saying the infection will finally reach Australia. But the same thing happens every winter with influenza. While a vaccine may be one to two years away, commonsense measures can prevent most cases. Panic and misinformation are more deadly.