Government officials, media and bloggers are spreading panic and hysteria about the new corona virus. It is a huge crisis, COVID-19 would eventually infect about 50-60% of the global population and kill maybe somewhere around 2 percent, if nothing is done about it. However, this is not unavoidable. Governments and individuals are taking measures against the disease, which may be very burdensome, but can be effective even without a drug treatment or vaccine.
Progress has been seen already in the first countries to be infected, such as China and South Korea. In China, for example, the daily new cases, daily deaths and active cases are all down in the last few weeks by 85-90% to a manageable level. Some would say China lies about their numbers, but the same kind of improvement is being seen in South Korea and will probably be seen in Europe soon.
Go to this link to see graphs about the state of the corona virus in different countries. Scroll down and click on the country name.
The reproduction number “R0” is, the number of other persons on average that someone with the disease infects for a population that is no immunity to the disease and no extra measures are employed to stop the disease. R0 is a measure of how contagious the disease is. The higher R0 is, the higher the percentage of people will eventually get the disease and the faster it spreads, if it allowed to spread freely in a population that has no immunity and no treatment for the virus.
A R0 of 2-3 will result in about 50-67% of the population getting the disease. A R0 less than 1.0 will result in the disease decreasing and eventually dying out.
R0 is not a constant, absolute value, though. It depends on the setting. The disease can have different values in different countries or areas due to differences in population density, weather and other factors.
The effective reproduction number, called here “Reff” can be reduced by infected countries taking measures to not get the disease and to not pass the disease on to other persons. That is, mainly by being tested, when persons seem likely to have been infected, and isolating themselves when they know they have the disease. Tests are becoming a lot more readily available, so it will soon be much easier to test.
This is all based on statistics and averages. It not absolutely necessary that every single person be responsible. What matters is that the great majority of people in general act in a way that reduces Reff to be less than 1.0. That is, on average, a person passes the disease on to less than one other person. There are laws, though, that allow the Government to force people to be quarantined when they have a communicable disease.
Instead of spreading panic the government and media should be telling people that everyone can do something positive and the disease can be controlled, even without an effective drug treatment or a vaccine. Of course, it would be much better to have a drug treatment and/or vaccine which may eventually come.
It is reasonable to expect the disease in other countries, more recently infected with the virus, will level off in the next few weeks and even start to decline as is happening already in the first countries to be infected, China and South Korea.
However, the disease will not go away very easily and it will probably take a lot of attention, resources and even harsh measures by governments for a few years to keep it under control. It may be impossible to eliminate completely without a vaccine.