Many thousands of articles have been written about the coronavirus. Here are some of the most helpful:
The LA Times recorded a half-hour lecture by their very own executive chairman, Dr Patrick Soon-Shiong, providing the scientific background to the coronavirus. Dr Soon-Shiong is a surgeon and scientist based at the University of California and his video provides a clear medical overview of Covid-19, complete with many visualizations of the virus and its effects.
What is the difference between the “coronavirus”, “Covid-19” and “SARS-Cov-2”? Is this an “epidemic” or a “pandemic”? How do “containment” measures compare to “mitigation”? And what does “flattening the curve” mean? Rong-Gong Lin II, also of the LA Times, provides us with a “coronavirus glossary” that cuts through the jargon.
Unfortunately, coronaviruses are actually too small to see, which makes it quite tricky to really visualise their spread during an outbreak. Harry Stevens’ article for the Washington Post, though, provides a handy series of animations which help to make sense of how viruses can make their way through a population and how different public health measures can affect an outbreak.
The BBC News team have provided a good summary of the different social distancing measures countries around the world have taken so far.
It doesn’t make for light viewing, but the John Hopkins University’s detailed online dashboard for the pandemic helps to track how these different measures are affecting case numbers across the globe in real time. It is important to note, however, that the “wide variation in testing”, described in the BBC report linked above, means that there remain a great many unknowns about the true spread of the virus.
Gregory Poland argues in a comment piece for The Lancet that, faced with these many unknowns, we must immediately start “maximally decreasing” social interaction. Professor Poland, an expert in respiratory viruses, believes that, without a “crystal ball”, our only option is to take further actions “that none of us want to take, and that many will reject”.
Jonathan Sumption, one of the UK’s leading jurists, takes the opposite view. Lord Sumption, speaking to BBC Radio 4’s World at One earlier in the week, argues that the only guarantee of a lockdown is economic wreckage and the immediate surrender of civil liberties, which could both have grave consequences for our future.
Tyler VanderWeele is also concerned about the social impact of recent public health measures and has offered reflections on how we can assist one another in flourishing during this time of crisis. Professor VanderWeele is a Harvard epidemiologist who also specialises in the “science of happiness”; his top tips include picking up groceries for elderly neighbours, calling up friends you’ve lost touch with and enjoying a bit more quality family time.
Robert Barron’s video on the coronavirus situation places more emphasis on the alone-time the quarantine affords us. Bishop Barron suggests that “sitting alone in a room” reading the great spiritual texts and praying will afford us some much-needed “monastic introspection”.
Are you still feeling fidgety and starting to wonder just how much longer you will have to remain cooped up in your monastic cell? The Atlantic’s Joe Pinsker offers an overview of the different forecasts for when things might return to normal.
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