Readers weigh in on coronavirus, cats and more

Thursday, March 26, 2020 - 19:30 in Health & Medicine

Coronavirus questions Lessons from outbreaks of coronaviruses that cause SARS and MERS may help scientists get a handle on the ongoing outbreak of a novel coronavirus, Tina Hesman Saey reported in “How the new coronavirus stacks up against SARS and MERS” (SN: 2/15/20, p. 6). Reader Inge Revuelta wondered about scientists’ calculations of how infectious the new coronavirus is — its R0. “I would like to know if this estimated number has any real practicality considering that the community of experts in this field has failed to reach a consensus on its accuracy,” Revuelta wrote. The R0 can vary over time as people in a population become immune to the virus, or as public health measures are put in place, Saey says. “The number has practical implications. It helps public health officials anticipate how big an outbreak might be and plan responses. It also indicates whether public health measures are working,” she says. Travel restrictions in Wuhan, China, seemed to reduce the virus’...

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