Coronavirus Pandemic

History | References

It invites a search for ultimate causes: why were Europeans, rather than Africans or Native Americans, the ones to end up with guns, the nastiest germs, and steel?”  ― Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs, and Steel

What is Coronavirus (nCoV)?
The coronavirus pandemic has only just begun and already it is making hourly headlines as markets crash globally and human societies struggle to adapt fast enough to this new and unexpected threat. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), coronaviruses (nCoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe respiratory diseases. Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is a new strain that was discovered in 2019 and has not been previously identified in humans. Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people.

Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death. Call your doctor first to find out what to do if you are experiencing symptoms.

Standard recommendations to prevent infection spread include regular hand washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, thoroughly cooking meat and eggs. Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing. Also, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is now reporting that wearing an N95-rated face mask, as well as other gear such as goggles and gloves, may reduce the chances of both spreading and contracting the disease, especially for healthcare workers. In this video on the supra-molecular properties of the coronavirus, Paul Beckwith explains the effectiveness of soap and water to combat virus spread.

A drug used in Japan to treat influenza seems to be effective at treating the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, according to news reports. The antiviral drug, called Favipiravir or Avigan, showed positive outcomes in clinical trials involving 340 individuals in Wuhan and Shenzhen, said Zhang Xinmin, of China’s science and technology ministry, The Guardian reported. Chloroquine phosphate has shown promise in shortening coronavirus related pneumonia. Strengthening your immune system (video) by sleeping well, eating right, and staying hydrated is always recommended.

Scientists are also trying to produce a vaccine in the next 12 to 18 months. According to a report on what it will take to stop coronavirus from Harvard Business Review, “efforts are underway to find a vaccine, but even the most optimistic timelines suggest several months of scientific development before human clinical trials can begin. With no vaccine or treatment, the most effective way to stop 2019-nCoV’s spread is to limit transmission by identifying infected individuals as quickly as possible and isolating them for treatment before they can infect others.”

How is it Different From Seasonal Flu?
There are some similarities between coronavirus and the regular seasonal flu. But no, coronavirus isn’t ‘just like the flu’. There are important differences. The first notable difference is that the mortality rate is higher. According to the Guardian reporting, “it is probably about or a bit less than 1%. Much higher figures have been flying about, but the chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, is one of those who believes it will prove to be 1% or lower. The World Health Organization’s director general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, talked of 3.4%, but his figure was calculated by dividing the number of deaths by the number of officially confirmed cases. We know there are many more mild cases that do not get to hospital and are not being counted, which would bring the mortality rate significantly down.”

According to Francois Balloux, Professor of Computational Systems Biology at University College London on the mortality rate, “it is around two percent on average, which is about 20 times higher than for the seasonal flu lineages currently in circulation.” Other experts are saying it is at least 10-30x higher than seasonal flu. Estimates vary widely as researchers are still gathering data.

It is also more contagious. This means it spreads very fast. In other words, the transmission rate is very high. Disease experts estimate that each COVID-19 sufferer infects between two to 3 others. That’s a reproduction rate up to twice as high as seasonal flu, which typically infects 1.3 new people for each patient. This is explained in the following video from Vox.

What is a Pandemic?
A pandemic is a new disease epidemic that has spread across a large region, for instance multiple continents, or worldwide. A widespread endemic disease with a stable number of infected people is not a pandemic. Coronavirus was officially named a pandemic by the World Health Organization, because it is new and worldwide. Further, flu pandemics generally exclude recurrences of seasonal flu.

Throughout history, there have been a number of pandemics of diseases such as smallpox and tuberculosis. One of the most devastating pandemics was the Black Death, which killed an estimated 75–200 million people in the 14th century. The current pandemics are HIV/AIDS and coronavirus disease 2019. Other notable pandemics include the 1918 influenza pandemic (Spanish flu) and the 2009 flu pandemic (H1N1). The 1918 Influenza killed 50 million people in approximately a two-year period.

Coronavirus Real-Time Trackers
The Johns Hopkins CSSE dashboard is one of the best and most comprehensive trackers being used by experts. Johns Hopkins University has developed an interactive web-based dashboard to visualize and track confirmed coronavirus cases in real-time. The dashboard illustrates the location and number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, deaths and recoveries for all affected countries. It was developed to provide researchers, public health authorities and the public with a user-friendly tool to keep tabs on the outbreak as it unfolds. Many are also using the Worldometer Tracker as well as other trackers.

Stay Calm, Stay Home, and Flatten Out the Curve
If this is just a stronger variation of the flu, why all the closures and quarantines? It is very important to understand that the true danger of coronavirus is unlikely to be the death toll. It is rather the sheer number of cases possible at these high transmission rates in populations with no herd immunity. Because of this, there is an unprecedented potential for a tsunami of cases to hit care facilities all at once. Experts say healthcare systems could easily become overwhelmed by the number of cases requiring hospitalization – and, often ventilation to support breathing. The travel bans are an attempt to “flatten out the curve.” Healthcare workers need as much time as possible to respond.

“The main uncertainty in the coronavirus outbreak in the United States now is how big it will get, and how fast. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Nancy Messonnier told reporters on March 9, “many people in the US will at some point, either this year or next, get exposed to this virus.” ― Vox

Healthcare providers want to slow the transmission rate down so that all the cases do not hit the system in a sudden spike. Experts know that it is likely a matter of when, not if, you will get it. According to Dr. John Campbell, “the World Heath Organization has said that 60-80% of the global population will be infected.  Of the 80% that get it, more than half of them will survive and likely only have mild symptoms. Children are showing very mild cases. Only 12% will need critical medical care according to the current statistics.” The assumption is that this will sweep the globe and there is just no stopping it.

However, doctors need manageable case loads to increase the chances of survival for their patients, especially those already on respirators, and not just those with coronavirus. In the following video Paul Beckwith explains why citizens all over the world must stay home, shut down, and self-quarantine in order to flatten out the curve so healthcare responders can do their jobs. The discussion covers this excellent article from Vox titled, “How Canceled Events and Self-Quarantines Save lives, In One Chart.”

Cancel Everything
At this time, there are already thousands more cases than are recorded.
The point is, there are thousands more cases than any healthcare system can track or test for in any country, except maybe China where the response was unprecedented and drastic by most standards. Both the US and the UK have been criticized for being sluggish to test. That being said, almost no country has ever attempted to track all cases of a flu within its borders to this extent before. There is simply no way to test everyone and many experts say it is unnecessary. Thousands of people will contract coronavirus and get only mild symptoms for which they will likely never be tested; just like with the seasonal flu. Thousands of cases of the seasonal flu go undocumented each and every year.

“Initially, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended testing only people with symptoms and who had potentially been exposed to the virus. But to the surprise of public health officials, several of the first people in the US who tested positive for the virus had no obvious exposure. This development suggested that the virus was being transmitted locally, meaning it was spreading from person to person easily and/or that people may have been transmitting the virus without experiencing serious symptoms. Since the number of available tests is limited, the CDC is encouraging physicians to minimize unnecessary testing and consider a patient’s exposure risks before ordering tests.” ― Science Alert

Experts know that this is out of their control and that many people are already walking around with coronavirus, but with no idea they even have it. In fact, many people who are asymptomatic (video), especially children, have tested positive for coronavirus. Studies have now shown that 50-75% of cases in Italy had no symptoms at all. There is simply no way to track for that.

The only way to control the number of cases from peaking all at once is to quarantine. Again, this is why it is a good time to avoid travel, work remotely if possible, or enjoy a staycation. You might also catch up on some reading or, try out dolce far niente or shikantanza. You might also take this opportunity to simplify your life. Amazingly enough, doing this will reduce pollution somewhat. Additionally, if we can breathe cleaner air, we won’t be at such high risk from respiratory infections like COVID-19.

How Long Will the Quarantines Last?
Experts like Dr. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House coronavirus task force, are now saying coronavirus could peak in about 45 days. Of course this is only speculation at this point — and Dr. Fauci has also warned against promising a specific time frame. It took more than 60-90 days in China for the case load to stop growing exponentially. But some experts are already warning of a second wave and asking if this is going to be a new normal?

The measures now going into place to stop the spread of the coronavirus may need to stay in place for longer and even up to one year or more. Dr. John Campbell (video) says it will take at least a year to start to build global herd immunity. Some have already said that nothing will be the same again. People should always be educated and aware of disease prevention measures. This outbreak will likely teach us many lessons about how to more effectively deal with such situations going forward.

How Does Coronavirus Relate to Climate Change?
Scholars have long studied how virus outbreaks and related survival issues shape human societies. In Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, one of Jared Diamond’s seminal works, he discusses how these often seemingly disparate phenomena are inextricably tied. He also explains how these factors have the potential to collapse human societies or even utterly wipe them from the face of the Earth.

With the sixth mass extinction looming, humans are becoming increasingly challenged to respond faster than ever to multiplying threats. We have to continuously evolve our knowledge to keep up with the speed of current change and at the same time we must attempt to understand how unexpected and unforeseen events are interrelated; perhaps especially when it seems unclear to us. It is also important to be ‘systems thinkers‘ to do this well. Systems thinkers analyze the big and small picture at the same time and are able to connect the dots between seemingly unrelated data.

According to to Dr. Aaron Bernstein in a recent interview with Inside Climate News, “a connection between COVID-19 and climate change doesn’t seem obvious at first glance, at least to lay people [so it is necessary to explain]. Air pollution makes people more vulnerable to respiratory infections; [while] climate change brings people in closer contact with animals that can spread disease.”

Further, according to the American Lung Association, about four in 10 Americans live in counties that have monitored unhealthy ozone and/or particle pollution. And respiratory ailments, including asthma, are only part of the rising risks that led at least one major medical journal to declare climate change the health issue of the century. Climate change related air pollution is just one issue that compounds coronavirus risk factors.

Researchers are just beginning to analyze how this virus, as well as other viruses, have direct relationships with our abruptly changing climate. This type of disease and its spread was certainly predicted by scientists for decades. Meanwhile, prevention and mitigation measures have been repeatedly thwarted by fossil fuels and other corporate-controlled interests that have resulted in the current religiously anti-science and science illiterate government. These are just the prerequisites necessary to produce what some are calling the first climate plague.

According to some researchers, climate change may have created the weather conditions ripe for the growth of such viruses within the kinds of animals that were being sold at the Wuhan market. In the following video from Real News Network this is discussed further.

Will Coronavirus Confinement Fight Climate Change?
This is a fascinating question. UN Secretary General, António Guterres, has said that climate change is a bigger threat than coronavirus. Strangely enough, the emergency measures now being taken to stop the transmission of the coronavirus are just some of the same emergency measures that we need to take as a global society in order to address the climate crisis.  Reports are showing that coronavirus has already cut China’s carbon emissions by 100 million metric tons. Also, satellites show Italy’s coronavirus response has dramatically and suddenly reduced air pollution emissions. Pollution rates are falling fast with these closures, showing us exactly what we need to do to stop climate change. Sadly, this emissions reduction is likely a temporary effect (video). But we need to discuss ways to find the way back a new normal according to Stuart Scott, in the following video:


In the meantime, the pandemic is proving to be an impromptu case study for humanity to learn what simplifying our lives, cutting emissions, halting business as usual, and changing our troubled ways might actually look like. Perhaps it is also an opportunity to consider whether panic buying toilet paper and other commercial goods that provide the momentary illusion of ‘cheap happiness‘ (video), is a really good exchange for the long term effects of destroying the oceans, melting the ancient polar ice caps, flirting with a hothouse Earth, and ultimately inducing mass extinction — because wittingly or unwittingly this is the trade we have been making up until now.

“Coronavirus is producing an enforced experiment in behavioral change, as increasing numbers work from home and reduce travel, environmentally friendly practices by most measure. Coronavirus response could also be a catalyst for structural investment as businesses review their resilience, say analysts.” ― Market Watch


“Coronavirus will realign investors’ priorities toward a new normal of sustainability Market Watch Opinion: Coronavirus will realign investors’ priorities toward a new normal of sustainability. The deadly virus is a stress test, of sorts, for the challenges of climate change.” ― Market Watch


“It is a familiar refrain to anyone who works on climate change, and it is why global efforts to slow down warming offer a cautionary tale for the effort to slow down the pandemic.” ― New York Times

We also need to question why it is that human societies are showing a sudden willingness to take the steps necessary to address coronavirus as an immediate threat, but at the same time they are failing to take the steps to mitigate the longer range threat of the climate crisis. Are human brains incapable of planning for or responding to threats that are not immediate? If so, how can we implement structural and systemic changes that will counteract this tendency? In the following France 24 report, François Gemenne, director of Hugo Observatory at the University of Liege, challenges us to see that the real threat behind the coronavirus is the climate crisis and suggests that we also respond to it with the same immediacy and emergency measures.

Is Coronavirus Confinement Removing the Aerosol Mask?
Global dimming (a.k.a. aerosol masking effect) is the constant plot of doomsday scenarios contending that we have to keep burning deadly fossil fuels in order to avoid a dimming disaster. However, “there is no need to fear clean air” says Bjorn Stevens, Max Plank Institute. Jasper Kirkby at CERN (video) says “nature produces abundant particles without any pollution…the trees can do it with zero pollution.”

In the following video, Paul Beckwith discusses the studies that came out after the 9/11 incident as a comparison event and provides some potential calculations for what types of temperature impacts we might see with the coronavirus closures as aerosol pollution is reduced.

In this video Paul Beckwith explains that the most widely cited estimates for the global dimming number are between 0.25 and 0.5°C, which would mean that the results of coronavirus warming might be something like 0.03°C. There is also some question as to how long regional impacts might take to show up in the average global temperature (AGT) data. In any case, it is not likely that the temperature increase would be as much as 1.0°C. This is the number often given by those who exaggerate this effect. Paul Beckwith has called this a “completely absurd number“ (video).

Other studies that came out after the initial 9/11 study challenged this further. They contended that this warming has become an urban legend as the non-science public confuses regional temperature fluctuations with AGT changes. “A US study by Dr Gang Hong of Texas A&M University has found that daily temperature range (DTR) variations of 1.0°C during September aren’t all that unusual and that the change in 2001 was probably attributable to low cloud cover. Elsewhere, a team at Leeds University, working with the Met Office Hadley Centre, ran contrails through its climate models and found that you’d need about 200 times the quantity of flights over America to produce a significant effect on DTR.” This will continue to be a matter of debate and likely much controversy.

Dimming need not present such a dilemma if we drawdown gradually and use natural geoengineering techniques. According to the most recent study on this matter, “this is very much a case of short-term climate pain for long-term gain. It might seem counterproductive to prompt temperature rises by reducing pollution, but this research also shows that this effect will disappear in a few decades. ‘If we carry on emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere at the current rate, we will see bigger temperature rises that are far longer lasting. This would be incredibly difficult for society to adapt to, and would cause devastating environmental damage.”

Keep in mind that according to the EPA we are already in global brightening in the Northern Hemisphere. Asia too should enjoy these same benefits of clean air. After all, it is our demand to their supply chain that is keeping half the globe breathing dangerously polluted air. And what goes around comes around, quite literally, carried by wind currents and jet streams.

“Ralph Keeling estimates that global fossil fuel use would have to decline by 10% for a full year to clearly impact CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere … It’s too early to say, if it is related to coronavirus, Keeling said, adding there were big variations from year to year and that the March trend was similar to some previous years.” ― Climate Change News

Fact Checking Coronavirus Conspiracy Theories
Fake news and conspiracy theories make headlines. That’s nothing new. There are now many online conspiracies circulating that involve coronavirus myths and rumors. Most of them should be avoided and/or heavily fact checked for accuracy. That being said, it is important to investigate some linkages further.

For example, COVID-19 was being studied at the Wuhan BSL-4 facility prior to the outbreak. According to LiveScience, who has provided excellent coverage of the pandemic from the beginning, it is the only one lab in China that had the new coronavirus before the outbreak.

Additionally, there were prior reports that the Wuhan BSL-4 lab had “accidents.” The Wuhan BSL-4 lab had been warned that this this could happen back in 2017. However, scientific consensus is that this virus did not originate in one of these bioweapons labs. This is now being debunked as fake news (video).

Still these facilities do pose a threat and accidents do happen. Of course, there will never be any proof that this virus could have escaped this facility; and even if there was, the authorities would deny it. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t question the existence of these labs as well as the need for bioweapons research. In the following video from Scientists’ Warning, Stuart Scott and Peter Wadhams discuss this interesting topic further. Peter Wadhams states here that “in theory, biological warfare was outlawed by UN agreement. Yet, all the militaristic nations have kept their research labs going. These labs are terribly badly run … with at least one leak of a deadly agent per year.”

Whether or not coronavirus escaped from a lab, the existence and safety of BSL-4 facilities should be examined. Some have already made the case for shutting them down. The testing procedures are well known to be problematic as well as uncertain. There are many in the United States as well. There will continue to be investigations into this matter as well as continued controversy. These and many more questions need to be raised.

COVID-19 news and research are still emerging daily at an unprecedented pace. This page will be updated with the latest information as it unfolds.

A Letter from the Coronavirus
It is with great appreciation that we present this work of Darikna Montico and Kristin Flyntz, with music by David Fesliyan. We are appreciative of the selfless motivation of the creators. There are English subtitles, so if you don’t see them automatically, click on the CC in the bottom right corner and turn them on manually. This video is worth watching more than once. First for the meaning of the words (unless you understand Italian) and then for the exquisite imagery.

Learn more:

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  • 10:30 pm Mar 31, 2020 – S. Cairns – (Added updated discussion on climate connection and new video with Dr. Alison Green and Stuart Scott).
  • 1:00 pm Mar 18, 2020 – S. Cairns – (Added more discussion from questions/comments regarding how long for a vaccine and other treatment measures as well as how long the quarantines will last).
  • 10:30 am Mar 15, 2020 – S. Cairns – (Added Coronavirus Pandemic wiki page content write up and resources).

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Note: This page is in a work in progress which will be constantly updated as with all wiki pages. The goal is to introduce the topic of the coronavirus pandemic as it is related to climate change, global impacts and current news.


3 Replies to “Coronavirus Pandemic”

  1. Very comprehensive article!
    We learned in the 70’s of system failure and climate destruction. We did not know accurately when society would
    be seriously impacted. The time is now!

  2. Thank you for this excellent summary to date. I am particularly concerned for how the various shutdowns and rapid relocalization will affect global dimming/brightening. You lay that out very thoroughly. The speed and extent of damage from the projected half degree elevated temperature due to the pandemic may depend on how the global system responds to this sudden change, and whether the change returns to ‘normal’ almost as quickly.

  3. Physicians of the Orthomolecular Medicine News Service and the International Society for Orthomolecular Medicine urge this to prevent or minimize symptoms for future viral infection. The following inexpensive supplemental levels are recommended for adults; for children reduce these in proportion to body weight:
    Vitamin C: 3,000 milligrams (or more) daily, in divided doses.
    Vitamin D3: 2,000 International Units daily. (Start with 5,000 IU/day for two weeks, then reduce to 2,000)
    Magnesium: 400 mg daily (in citrate, malate, chelate, or chloride form)
    Zinc: 20 mg daily
    Selenium: 100 mcg (micrograms) daily
    Vitamin C, Vitamin D, magnesium, zinc, and selenium strengthen the immune system against viruses.
    Preventing and treating respiratory infections with large amounts of vitamin C is well established.
    See news releases to learn much more! In a recent release they document Vitamin C as an effective treatment for seriously ill patients with the corona virus.

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