As Coronavirus Sweeps Europe Public Heeds Medical Experts

coronavirus outbreakIn Switzerland when we first heard reports of the coronavirus in China, we only half listened, but when our neighbor Italy announced outbreaks, we were all ears.

The close proximity and community spread of a life threatening virus has Europeans on edge. Most citizens held their fears in check until the Italian outbreak, then within hours illness knocked on our doorstep. Our anxiety stepped up a notch.

coronavirus outbreak

figures valid as March 6, 2020

Surrounded by Italy, Austria, Germany, and France, hundreds of thousands of people cross our borders daily to work in Switzerland. At my former work place, the International School of Geneva, 140 different nations are represented, many of whom live across the French border. Exposure is inevitable.

Suddenly news flashed across Europe in different languages as nations grappled with how to best handle the crisis and contain outbreaks. For the first time ever, Switzerland immediately cancelled its world famous Geneva International Motor Show and forbid public events of more than 1000 spectators including popular soccer and hockey games. France limited gatherings to less than 5000. Both countries immediately shut down schools and shops where clusters of coronavirus broke out. Leaders of European countries reacted quickly, calmly and sensibly.

Meanwhile across the Atlantic, Trump’s initial reaction was to minimize its impact. At his campaign rally in South Carolina, he proclaimed that the coronavirus was the new “Democratic hoax”. By promoting “fake news,” he only added to public confusion and mistrust.

COVID 19 is so new, much remains unknown: incubation period is uncertain and asymptomatic patients become silent carriers. Countries close borders, quarantine citizens, and try to curb public panic.

Medical experts have trouble understanding and predicting outcomes. Even so, international researchers are moving forward so quickly that vaccine might be possible within 12 to 18 months instead of 10 to15 years.

With medical personnel overworked in every country and the public’s anxiety rising, we need to get the facts straight. Worldwide public health and safety should be paramount on any leader’s agenda especially a leader as powerful as the US President.

Fortunately the highly respected Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, is now serving as a member of the White House coronavirus task force to provide facts and clarify misconceptions.

Global health experts like our friend, Dr. Jonathan Quick, former chair of Global Health Council and long term collaborator of theWorld Health Organization (WHO) have been solicited by news agencies around the world such as ABC .

In The Guardian, he offers valuable insights, proposes feasible solutions and provides hope for the future.

The End of EpidemicsHis book, The End of Epidemics published in 2018, predicted the present day scenario.

“Jonathan Quick offers a compelling plan to prevent worldwide infectious outbreaks. The End of Epidemics and is essential reading for those who might be affected by a future pandemic―that is, just about everyone.”―Sandeep Jauhar, bestselling author of Heart: A History

As the WHO scrambles to predict outcomes, produce tests and develop vaccines, we need to listen to the voices of those who know best.

For a world leader to put a personal spin on such a deadly and disruptive global crisis for political leverage is dangerous. Political differences must be put aside, scientific knowledge must be shared and transparency between countries must prevail to contain a world epidemic with such dire consequences.

Regardless if we live in the Americas, Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East or Australia it behooves us all to remember pandemics don’t discriminate.

It is in humanity’s best interest to adhere to the collective advice of the world’s best scientific minds.

no borders for coronavirus

Posted in health, social view.


  1. Well written, Pat. I don’t usually get political, but while the world is scrambling to handle this global crisis in the best possible way and taking the challenge seriously, our US President is minimizing it by saying that the coronavirus is going to just go away and (paraphrased) “It will just disappear… like a miracle.”
    He is also attacking the WHO statistics and going on his own “hunch” that the mortality rate isn’t as high as they say. What the US and the rest of world needs is clear, concise messaging with research backed facts which are out there. Thank goodness the rest of the world is staying on top of things.
    Thank you for highlighting Jono and his fabulous book – a great read for the entire populace.

    • Thanks Tina. I should think that St Martin’s Press will want to have another print run of Jono’s valuable book. This global health crisis has everyone over here on edge and the way the US President is handling it only makes people more nervous. As you said attacking WHO statistics, going on personal hunches and minimizing the severity is outrageous. I am grateful that media is seeking the input of those experts like Jono, who have so much experience and knowledge to share.

  2. Joel Clement, a former policy director at the Department of Interior who left government after the Trump administration reassigned him from his climate-focused role, said the administration had undermined efforts to deal with threats such as pandemics.

    Clement said Trump should bolster public trust in the civil servants dealing with the coronavirus outbreak, restore the scientific strength of the federal government and fund programs that will help prevent the spread of threats like the virus.

    “In other words, he needs to do the opposite of what we know he will do,” Clement said. “He is more concerned about the safety of his fragile ego than he is about the safety of Americans.”

    If you want to read more about a British point of view on the issue, read this:

  3. This is so well thought out, Pat. Thanks for putting it into words. Let’s work together and trust our best scientists!

    • Thanks for commenting Peggy. I awlays enjoy hearing from you. I sure hope that we can work together to contain this. We have so much to learn about how to manage epidemics.

  4. Well the US is being hit also and Trump is finally realizing he needs to take action. Hopefully this will come to an end. Thank you for the article.

    • I sure hope that Trump will provide funding for the aid necessary to help people in crisis. As coronavirus sweeps Europe at alarming speed, our leaders grapple with finding the best way to contain the outbreak. Scary times.

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