Covid 19 – The lesson from China from Bruce Aylward, leader of the W.H.O. team that visited China

Needless to say, Covid 19 pandemic dominates the media daily. I am following the news like many other people. A few weeks ago, I came across this interview by Asia Society (a US-based organization) titled “Coronavirus: The Lesson From China | Asia In-Depth Podcast“. In this podcast, Asia Society Executive Vice President Tom Nagorski interviewed Bruce Aylward, who led the World Health Organization response to the COVID-19 outbreak in China. Dr. Bruce also did an interview with the New York Times “Inside China’s All-Out War on the Coronavirus“.

There are a number of meaningful comments and advice which I think should be repeated hence this post:

  • Covid 19 fatality rate: between 1%-4%, definitely much higher than seasonal flu. Obviously this rate is different based on age, the country’s health care system, etc. You can also see here the current fatality rate from Our World In Data.
  • China is using the fundamentals of public health principles of case finding/testing, contact tracing, isolation etc. which has helped to prevent hundreds of thousands of cases within China.
    • This is Not a Chinese approach, it is a codified scientific approach, mostly by the US CDC. China has implemented those principles with incredible speed and effectiveness. (of course, this is after the initial period where officials in Wuhan tried to hide the outbreak).
  • Massive/total lockdown happened in Hubei province (which includes Wuhan) but not in the rest of the other provinces in China (i.e. the rest of China).
    • Other countries can learn from this approach. This advice was given back in Feb, early March before the number of global cases past 200 thousand so I guess it may be too late in many countries now if they want to avoid a complete lockdown to act as a massive circuit breaker.
  • Speed is extremely critical since this is a respiratory disease and the entire population needs to engage. People need to be informed to understand that this is not seasonal flu and everyone must play a part.
  • Remove any barriers that the general population may have for not do testing, or seek treatment from it:
    • “The government made it clear: testing is free. And if it was Covid-19, when your insurance ended, the state picked up everything.”
  • People with mild symptoms go to isolation centers and Not hospitals to relieve pressure from the hospitals.
    • “With mild symptoms, you go to an isolation center. They were set up in gymnasiums, stadiums — up to 1,000 beds. But if you were severe or critical, you’d go straight to hospitals. Anyone with other illnesses or over age 65 would also go straight to hospitals.”
    • ““Mild” was a positive test, fever, cough — maybe even pneumonia, but not needing oxygen. “Severe” was breathing rate up and oxygen saturation down, so needing oxygen or a ventilator. “Critical” was respiratory failure or multi-organ failure.”

Listen to the whole podcast if you have the time. It is highly valuable and heartwarming in some instances too.

Coronavirus: The Lesson From China | Asia In-Depth Podcast

Stay safe everyone,


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