Stone Age Doc Pandemic Perspective #2

Rady Children’s Hospital hosted a webinar on COVID-19 on March 27th by Dr. David Kimberlin of the University of Alabama. Additional comments were presented by Dr. Mark Sawyer of UCSD.

By now we accept that at this stage of rapid developments, facts are fluid, scientific opinions are often contradictory and no one knows when life can return to normal – “normal” being perhaps quite different from what it was when the new year began. Here are some of the highlights of Dr. Kimberlin’s presentation.

No one can be sure when the peak of the epidemic will occur in the United States although sometime in mid- or late April is likely.

Social distancing has clearly been shown to limit transmission of the virus within the community. This coronavirus will probably be a seasonal, i.e., recurring problem, in much the same way that influenza is. By April 2021 it’s likely that about two-thirds of the global population will have become infected.

Significant mutations (which could change the pattern of a future epidemic) such as those that occur with the influenza virus, do not appear to be a problem. Coronaviruses tend to show strain differences but the impact of those changes is not clear.

The immune response to COVID-19 is not durable, so that later reinfection with the same strain is possible. It will be at least a year before we can have some idea of the duration of immunity developed by a future vaccine.

The occurrence of asymptomatic infection is higher than initially suspected; it ranges from 20-40% depending on the population and the methods used to identify infection. The average is about 30 percent.

Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are being studied at many sites but no definitive data have yet been published.

The virus appears to have little effect on children below the age of 10 years. This is the age group in which the coronaviruses long known to cause ordinary colds are common, so that these children have cross-protection and do not become seriously ill.

I’ll be publishing these perspectives every Saturday for the foreseeable future. You can receive them automatically by clicking on the link on the home page of this web site on the lower right.



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