Epidemiologist Michael Osterholm appeared on the Joe Rogan Experience Podcast this week to discuss the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, and set the record straight about the threat that is facing the world. In recent weeks, citizens of the United States and parts of Europe are still divided about whether or not this virus should be taken seriously, so Rogan invited an expert onto his show to talk about some of the misconceptions surrounding the virus.
Some of the key takeaways from the interview was that this virus is at least 10 to 15 times worse than the seasonal flu, and that experts are estimating that around a half million people could die in the next 6 months.
A similar estimation was suggested this week by Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who told the House Oversight and Reform Committee that the virus is “at least” 10 times more deadly than the seasonal flu.
Another disturbing revelation that Osterholm shared with Rogan was that experts believe that this virus will not go away with the changing of the seasons, as many optimists were hoping early on in the outbreak.
Osterholm also expressed some frustration with the messaging from health officials that downplayed the possibility of catching the illness from the air. Osterholm notes that washing your hands is great advice, but can be misleading because while research has shown that the virus can spread through surfaces, it can also be breathed in.
Unfortunately, this mixed messaging from authorities, especially in places like the US where the issue has been politicized, further confuses the population and makes it more likely that people will panic when they realize how serious the situation actually is.
Italy has one of the best healthcare systems in the world, but the country’s hospitals are currently overrun with coronavirus patients. Osterholm pointed out that many of these patients who need hospitalization are younger too. This leaves the hospitals in a difficult position of rationing out medical care to those who need it the most, and it is likely that these same decisions will soon be faced in the US and the UK.
There are other risk factors, aside from age, which make people more vulnerable to hospitalization if they get the COVID-19 coronavirus. These risk factors include smoking, weight, and any type of underlying health condition which could make your immune system weaker. Still, even healthy patients have been facing severe illness as a result of the virus. While it may be true that a large portion of those infected are asymptomatic or only develop mild symptoms, this just means that they become prime carriers for the virus and help it spread more easily.