WDI News & Updates
Dear Friends and Patients, 

My friend and colleague, Dr. Jennifer Ashton, shared with me information she is sending to her patients about the Coronavirus outbreak. As the Chief Medical Correspondent for ABC News, Dr. Ashton has been covering this issue since the beginning, on a near-daily basis. Also, in that capacity, she was invited down to the NIH to visit the Vaccine Development Lab where they are working on a vaccine to combat Covid-19. At ABC News, she gets daily briefings from the CDC and WHO.

Here are some key facts:

-Coronaviruses cause 30% of common colds worldwide, so most of us had likely had one strain at one time in our lives.

-THIS new strain, originated in animals and then jumped to humans and has now shown evidence of human-to-human transmission.

-The symptoms of infection include fever, cough, shortness of breath, and can range from very mild/no symptoms to severe/critical pneumonia.

-Numbers: the numbers being reported in the media are to be interpreted with a huge chunk of salt because many countries ‘reporting’ confirmed cases do not have the capacity to report lab results in real-time, and do not have a central/national specimen transport system. Most importantly, the truly important numbers to know are how many people have been exposed, how many are infected, how many are tested, and of those tested, how many test positive. These numbers are elusive and unknown at this time. In addition, China and Iran most certainly are not reporting truly accurate numbers for a variety of reasons. Many mathematical models estimate that the true number of people infected is of much greater magnitude (i.e, instead of 80,000, more like 800,000 or millions.)

-Severity rate: unknown but it appears that most of the time, the disease is MILD. The majority of deaths have been in people older than age 59 and in those with chronic medical conditions.

-There is no treatment and no vaccine yet.

-***Prevention: the best ways to protect yourself are the same things we recommend to lower the risk of Flu: hand-washing, avoid touching your face, clean contact surfaces/hot spots regularly and if you are sick STAY HOME (especially if you have a fever), and avoid close contact with sick people.

-***TRAVEL: I do not have a simple answer for this. Common sense and US State Dept/CDC recommendations are clear when it comes to China and S. Korea. Travel to Europe is currently in the mid-tier warning. We don’t know what this will look like in 2 weeks, 2 months or over the summer. This comes down to risk vs benefit, and what your individual level of risk tolerance is.

-**Right now, Influenza is MUCH more of a risk. It is not too late to get a flu shot.**

-CDC’s recommendations is to ‘prepare’: what this means is have home supplies such that IF grocery store supplies were compromised OR some unforeseen social distancing recommendations were made, you could stay at home for 2 weeks. This includes having enough prescription medications if you take any.

-Masks: the routine use of surgical masks to prevent getting sick are NOT recommended. The flu and coronavirus particles are so small that they go through those surgical masks. Masks ARE recommended if YOU are sick, coughing and sneezing, etc, to prevent large droplets of landing on others and surfaces. 

Dr. Ashton and I hope you find this helpful.


Lisa R. Weinstock, MD

Director, Women’s Digital Imaging

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