A Swedish Public Broadcasting headline 21 March, 2020:
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT THE CORONA VIRUS
Virus expert: No more dangerous than a common flu.
Many in Sweden can be infected with the coronavirus without knowing it, believes Johan Giesecke, virus expert and adviser to the WHO.
However, the disease itself and its health effects may prove to be comparable to a common flu.
– I think it is like a difficult flu season, says Johan Giesecke.
The corona virus has led to historical measures that have had major consequences in everyday life.
But if you look at the health effects, the virus can turn out to be a common seasonal flu, believes Johan Giesecke, who points out that 500 to 2,000 people die from the flu every year.
– I think it’s like a difficult flu season. I think it is comparable to that, he says.
At the same time, he does not think that the measures around the world to stop the spread of infection are about an overreaction.
– You should always take into account that it can be much worse than you actually think it will be. I think you have an obligation to do that.
Large dark number
Johan Giesecke believes that many in Sweden are infected without knowing it.
– This disease spreads very quickly and it often gives no, or very mild, symptoms. So you do not see the cases that exist in society.
The most important thing to do as a private person right now is to stay at home as soon as you feel symptoms, according to Johan Giesecke.
– The most important measure we can take in this country is that if you feel sick in the morning, have a sore throat, have a cold or have a fever, you should stay at home. If everyone did, this epidemic would be over in a couple of weeks.
“A bad action”
The UK has decided to close all schools due to the coronavirus. Sweden and the United Kingdom have broadly had a similar strategy for dealing with the coronavirus. But closing all schools is not the right way to go, according to Johan Giesecke.
– It is a bad measure that does so much else in society. There are one million children in Sweden who are between 0 and 10 years old. They need supervision, if you close the schools so that one of their parents has to be at home, it will have enormous effects.
A graph based on ECDC data, showing that the cumulative number of deaths in Italy is growing exponentially. This ‘Virus Expert’ has access to these same numbers. I find that these numbers, as well as what we know from China, should prompt one to consider at least the possibilty that this is an epidemic of concern, and to take some precautions. Just in case. What is worrying – although not surprising – is that the expert put more weight on what ‘he thinks’ than the facts that are right before his eyes.
The Hard Truth is: We do not know. Then it does not matter what anyone ‘thinks.’