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Coronavirus in Wuhan: Public Health and Security Implications

January 23, 2020

Episode Notes:

In the Chinese city of Wuhan, authorities are dealing with an outbreak of a new type of coronavirus. About 500 cases have been reported so far, in most of China’s major cities, and as of yesterday, one case in the United States. In response, Chinese officials have imposed significant transportation limitations and quarantine-like restrictions around Wuhan. Coronaviruses are often associated with respiratory diseases such as MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) or SARS (Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which can have high mortality rates; but also with the common cold.


To learn more, we are speaking with Dr. Erin Sorrell of the Center for Global Health and Security at Georgetown University. She is an assistant professor of microbiology and immunology and co-directs the Biohazardous Threat Agents and Emerging Infectious Diseases program. Previously, she served as a senior analyst at the Office of Cooperative Threat Reduction’s Biosecurity Engagement Program.


[ 01:30 ] What is a coronavirus, why does it pose a particular health risk

[ 02:25 ] What do we know about the origins and transmission mechanism of Wuhan coronavirus

[ 03:12 ] How big of a deal is this? What should we infer from the Chinese reaction?

[ 04:50 ] What are the challenges to surveillance and tracking of a new virus such as this?

[ 06:17 ] What indicators would cause you concern from a security perspective?

[ 08:29 ] What sorts of protective measures would you expect to see?  How well do they work?

[ 10:23 ] How would you contextualize/compare this against something with which listeners may be more familiar like Ebola?

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