First encountered in Wuhan, China, in December 2019, the new coronavirus disease COVID-19 has spread rapidly within China and reached many other countries as well. COVID-19 is highly transmissible, with no vaccine or treatment currently available, and on January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. Will the coronavirus lead to an unprecedented global pandemic, as some experts predict? Or are warnings over the dangers of COVID-19 just fearmongering?
Coronavirus will not change the world significantlyShow moreShow less
Concerns about the worst-case scenarios for COVID-19 are alarmist and overblown.
For COVID-19 to reach the level of a global pandemic, it will have to spread in spite of the collective best efforts of many nations as well as unfavorable natural conditions.
The coronavirus has received enormous amounts of public and research attention focused on limiting its impact. Virtually every national and international government and health organization has developed a strategy for addressing a potential pandemic, and public awareness of the problem is extremely high: the Kaiser Family Foundation's February 2020 Health Tracking Poll indicated that only 3% of Americans were unaware of the coronavirus outbreak, with a strong majority saying they had heard "a lot" about it; over 85% reported being concerned, suggesting that measures to contain the disease will receive vigorous public support. From February 11-12, 2020, the World Health Organization convened a global research and innovation summit to mobilize international research dedicated to combating the coronavirus. The response to COVID-19 from both experts and the public has been swift and aggressive, and will no doubt show results through the rest of 2020.
The coronavirus also has to contend with the climatological barrier that stops or slows the spread of many other infectious diseases each year. The onset of warmer weather in the most heavily populated regions of the world during the summer works against the spread of viruses, because viral degradation occurs significantly more quickly at higher temperature and humidity. People also tend to spend less time closely clustered together in indoor environments during the summer months, reducing the chances of person-to-person contact and infection. Even if human efforts fail to counteract COVID-19, there is good reason to believe that the natural cycle of the climate will mitigate the outbreak.