Harvard epidemiologist says coronavirus is "thermonuclear pandemic level bad"

by Adam Ford · Jan 25th, 2020 10:45 am

Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding, a Harvard-trained epidemiologist who taught at the school for 15 years, published his alarming analysis of the coronavirus outbreak on Twitter Saturday, calling the virus "thermonuclear pandemic level bad" and declaring "I really hate to be the epidemiologist who has to admit this, but we are potentially faced with an unchecked pandemic that the world has not seen since the 1918 Spanish Influenza."

His full Twitter thread is reproduced below:

The eighth tweet in the thread, which was removed or deleted for reasons unknown (at publishing time Dr. Ding had not replied to a request for comment), was captured in a screen shot:

Below is the compiled text from his Twitter thread:

HOLY MOTHER OF G*D - the new coronavirus is a 3.8!!! How bad is that reproductive R0 value? It is thermonuclear pandemic level bad - never seen an actual virality coefficient outside of Twitter in my entire career. I'm not exaggerating...

"We estimate the basic reproduction number of the infection (R_0) to be 3.8 (95% confidence interval, 3.6-4.0), indicating that 72-75% of transmissions must be prevented by control measures for infections to stop increasing. We estimate that only 5.1% (95%CI, 4.8-5.5) of infections in Wuhan are identified, and by 21 January a total of 11,341 people (prediction interval, 9,217-14,245) had been infected in Wuhan since the start of the year. Should the epidemic continue unabated in Wuhan we predict the epidemic in Wuhan will be substantially larger by 4 February (191,529 infections; prediction interval, 132,751-273,649), infection will be established in other Chinese cities, and importations to other countries will be more frequent. Our model suggests that travel restrictions from and to Wuhan city are unlikely to be effective in halting transmission across China; with a 99% effective reduction in travel, the size of the epidemic outside of Wuhan may only be reduced by 24.9% on 4 February. Our findings are critically dependent on the assumptions underpinning our model, and the timing and reporting of confirmed cases, and there is considerable uncertainty associated with the outbreak at this early stage. With these caveats in mind, our work suggests that a basic reproductive number for this 2019-nCoV outbreak is higher compared to other emergent coronaviruses, suggesting that containment or control of this pathogen may be substantially more difficult."!!!!

SUMMARY: so what does this mean for the world??? We are now faced with the most virulent virus 🦠 epidemic the world has ever seen. An R0=3.8 means that it exceeds SARS's modest 0.49 viral attack rate by 7.75x — almost 8 fold! A virus that spreads 8 faster than SARS cannot be stopped by containment alone. A 99% quarantine lockdown containment of Wuhan will not even reduce the epidemic's spread by even 1/3rd in the next 2 weeks. Thus, I really hate to be the epidemiologist who has to admit this, but we are potentially faced with possibly an unchecked pandemic that the world has not seen since the 1918 Spanish Influenza. Let's hope it doesn't reach that level but we now live in the modern world 🌎 with faster ✈️+ 🚞 than 1918. WHO and CDC needs to declare public health emergency ASAP!

What is the typical R0 attack rate for the seasonal flu in most years? It's around an R0=1.28. The 2009 flu pandemic? R0=1.48. The 1918 Spanish Flu? 1.80. This new #WuhanCoronavirus reproductive value again? R0=3.8.

And it gets even worse, the Lancet now reports that the coronavirus is contagious even when *no symptoms*: specifically: "crucial to isolate patients... quarantine contacts as early as possible because asymptomatic infection appears possible"!

Let's pretend the 3.8 estimate is too high (there's unpublished estimates of 2.5). even if this virus's R0=2.5, that's still 2x higher than seasonal flu's 1.28 (ref above), and higher than 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic of 1.80 that killed millions. So 2.8 is still super bad folks.