A medical expert is praising the Trump administration for its response to the coronavirus, while slamming the news media for its actions.
“I’ve been handling these emerging contagions for about 20 years now, and I have to tell you, I’ve never seen one handled better,” Dr. Marc Siegel said regarding the actions of President Donald Trump since the coronavirus first emerged as a concern in January.
Siegel is a professor of medicine at New York University, a medical correspondent for Fox News, and the author of “False Alarm: The Truth About the Epidemic of Fear.”
Siegel said the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force brings together the right people.
“The task force are really top players,” said Siegel, noting the inclusion of Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Fauci is “one of the top infectious disease experts in the country,” he noted.
“They’ve been doing exactly what they’re supposed to be doing,” he said, listing actions Trump has called for such as “restricting travel, isolating patients who are sick and, trying to cut down on contact. It’s a very hard thing to do when people are pouring in from all over the world.”
CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield, a virologist, and Dr. Nancy Messonnier, an expert in vaccines who has been sounding the alarm about the virus, are also important members, he said, though he believes the “doom and gloom comment” about the inevitable spread of the virus was uncalled for.
Siegel said that the coronavirus is different from diseases such as SARS or the flu.
“SARS had about a ten percent mortality [rate], but it only affected about 8,000 people. Swine flu had a very, very low mortality for flu, but flu itself really only causes about a point-four percent death rate, and [coronavirus] is about one-point-four percent. So this is killing more than flu, but I want to make a couple of points that will reassure people,” he said.
“One, at the beginning of an emerging contagion, it always appears more deadly than it actually is. The 1918 flu is an exception, but normally as time goes on, it’s less deadly, and part of that is because you see more immunity appearing, and you also find a lot of milder cases — or even cases where people don’t get sick at all. You find that as you start to test more people,” he said.
He also noted that people who were infected but never got sick do not show up in statistics, making the virus seem more deadly than it is.
Health officials have tried to put the disease in context.
” I just want to echo again that the risk is low — the risk is low. I encourage Americans to go about their life. That includes travel to California, Oregon, and the state of Washington,” Redfield said Saturday at a media event announcing the first death from the virus in the U.S., according to a White House media pool report
Fauci said that infection is not tantamount to death.
“If you look at the totality of the cases that have been reported, particularly from China, about 75 to 80 percent of them would do really quite well. They would just sort of like a bad flu or a cold. You get anywhere from 15 to 20, 20-some-odd percent who are going to go on to require advanced medical care — hospitalization, possibly intensive care,” he said. “For the most part, the people who get in trouble and ultimately, tragically, would die from this are people who are elderly and/or have underlying conditions: heart disease, chronic lung disease, diabetes, obesity, because of the difficulty in breathing back and forth.
“However, every once in a while, you’re going to see a one-off, you’re going to see a 25-year-old person, who looks otherwise well, that’s going to get seriously ill. But the vast majority of the people who get into trouble do have these underlying conditions And that’s why it confuses people, because they say, ‘Well, you just said that, and then there’s a report of a 40-year-old physician from China who died.’ That’s going to happen,” he said.
“That happens with influenza. Most of the time, influenza kills people who are advanced age and underlying conditions. But you hear in the media, every once in a while, a college student would get infected and ultimately die. But the majority is in that risk group,” he said.
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