January 29, 2020

Coronavirus is Why We Want Government Supported Scientists: Do Not Panic

MERS coronavirus and cell
This is a computer colorized TEM (transmission electron micrograph) image of some MERS virus particles (blue) found near the edge of an infected VERO-E6 cell (yellow). Image from the NIAID Integrated Research Facility in Fort Detrick, Maryland.NIAID is the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), where government scientists work as part of the National Institutes of Health. MERS is a coronavirus like the current Wuhan China coronavirus. 

Coronavirus. I provide links in this posting to get information on this illness that you can trust. DO NOT PANIC. We see signs and memes all the time having fun with this phrase, but there are times when it is very good advice. This is one of those times while an epidemic of a dangerous coronavirus illness is spreading in mainland China and starting to appear in other countries. My best wishes and thank you to the Chinese mainland for throwing resources to reduce transmission and to treat the ill. The situation seems bad, but imagine what it would be like without the existence of our own U.S. Center for Disease Control (the CDC), or the World Health Organization (spawned from the United Nations). Imagine if we did not understand even what viruses were or how they work. It would be like the middle ages as plague spread and humans were oblivious about how to stop it, what it was, and even continuing to behave in ways that helped it spread more. I say, Do Not Panic. Why should we not panic now?
[Last update 2-4-2020, the confirmed cases were about 24,000 + in China. Continuing exponential trend. K. Mitton]

We should not panic because we have decades of biochemical science that now understands how many viruses and bacteria work. How they grow, how they are built, how they spread, and also how to detect them. This allows the country I live in now (United States), the country I was born in (Canada) and most of the developed world to understand what is happening and then react accordingly. This is not a nice thing to happen to our world, and I do not wish this on any world, but this event is also an education for anyone with more libertarian or antiscience leanings. 

The best advice and information you can trust about this virus is found here at the CDC website:


Some key symptoms of this illness are fever, coughing and shortness of breath. While regular flu is also going around at this time, if you get these symptoms it is wise to have your doctor check you out. If you have shortness of breath, do go to urgent care or your local hospital and take no chances. 

Some philosophies would dismantle much of our taxpayer-supported science institutions and they would suggest that the common market will take care of everything driven by for-profit motives. Well, that is shown to be an incorrect idea in this viral situation. We are now ready to understand new diseases, more quickly than ever in human history, because we have invested in the scientists and researchers who have pulled back the black curtain of mystery on biology itself. Especially concerning the human body and the problems that cause illnesses of many kinds. Vaccines are made for diseases like SARS, another coronavirus of 2000's, by government funding. While companies exist that help produce the vaccines, they do not invest in this production on their own. Nor do they design the prototype vaccines that are tested first in government-funded academic research centers at universities in the US, UK, EU, Canada, Australia, and Japan. 

So keep this coronavirus example in mind the next time you hear someone complain about having too many scientists working in government and academic labs in: the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control, Department of Energy, US Department of Agriculture, US Geological Survey (USGS), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA). All of these organizations are currently being weakened and are under attack in the United States by the politicians in power. Yet these organizations house the scientists who work to make sure you do not need to panic. Scientists that work so your Children and your Grand Children might survive in a future that will be more a crowded and possibly more toxic place too.

Johns Hopkins University now has a coronavirus outbreak dashboard, available at the link below, to map numbers and locations for "2019-nCor", which is the name for the current coronavirus. A spreadsheet (google) can be viewed here:


You can view world maps and other summations of data about this outbreak here:

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