The WHO Coronavirus China Tour News Conference by Dr. Bruce Aylward

The WHO Coronavirus China Tour News Conference by Dr. Bruce Aylward

He is the Team Leader, WHO China Joint Mission on Covid 19, which just returned from a China medical tour.  The news conference is on YouTube.

My notes are only from the latter part of his talk.

Of the Coronavirus cases, 80% are mild, 13% severe, and 7% critical.

86% have fevers.  Also sore throats and coughs.

China is now very experienced in treating and saving lives, better than we can expect elsewhere.  They are very dedicated to this.

There are few cases outside of Wuhan or Hubei

They can test 32,000 a day. (Not sure if this was one facility or province or the entire country.  Some numbers in any of my reports may have been transcribed inaccurately.)

Exponential decline currently.  (The curve he showed of new cases, I presume, goes up rapidly, and then declines more slowly.  Not exponentially.)

Every province hit in 23 days.

China is not waiting for a vaccine to act.

They have a Mindset shift, not to accept the virus inevitability.

To respond you need beds, ventilators, lab capacity, doing rapid CT scans, 200 a day in each scanner, case investigation forms, and contacters.

Don’t make a run on the masks, which will be in short supply.

Prepare in advance.

Talk to people who have done it, don’t build barriers.

There are double blind remdesivir antiviral tests, so we don’t know how it is going (since those getting it and those getting a placebo are not unveiled until the end of the test).  Two tests are in progress.

Beijing has a 14 day entrance isolation.

Factories are increasing workers in phases.

Three areas are classified in the country:  those with no cases; those with isolated cases; and community transmission areas.

A written report will be released.

Asked about the mortality rate, he only responded that it was in single digits.


Children are largely not affected.  

We have older populations and heart diseases.  Comorbidities and age are our problems.

Not like the flu.  A SARS like problem.  We shouldn’t have the attitude that we cannot contain it.

Poorer countries don’t have ventilators, oxygen supplies (and in-country rapid testing).

China’s heavy smokers effect not evident.

Political leaders in China knew everything about the disease in the briefings.

The tour didn’t enter fever areas.  Kept a 6 foot distance from each other.  One seat per row in trains.  One person per table dining and working.

China and elsewhere are working on rapid diagnostics.  PCR takes time.  4 or 5 methods being tested for rapid diagnostics.

Time is everything with this disease.

Can cut it by 90% with rapid response.

Technical Guidance series on the WHO website.

Tour included WHO, CDC, NIH, and other experts.

Prevalent TCM (traditional Chinese medicine).  Not trials with it.  90% of patients get it.  Helps in mild cases, is anti-inflammatory, and brings down fever.  Helped with anxiety.

Everybody in government is involved.  A task force runs it.  Everybody is co-operating.  You can be masters of your own fate.  Why not replicate it elsewhere?  There is nothing on the list that other countries cannot do.

25 people are on the consensus report.  The report is separate from agencies, in order to be independent.  The new infection Curve goes up and down.  Need Chinese okay to publish it.

How to take care of medical and psychological needs of the patients.  

(Dr. Aylward was asked to respond to Steve Bannon’s statement that there were a million cases in China, and that 250,000 had died.  How could he respond to this on camera, and in a semi-official capacity?)

Also important is the psychology of the confined people.

This is the 21st century.  China is on a war footing.  Population must be highly sensitized.  People have to seek treatment fast.  Not wait for 15 days.  In China, it is now only 3 days.  Choke off the spread in China.

You are never ready.  Have to have the sense that we should be as ready as possible.  Mind set, materials, and then the population.

Conflict areas, or poor countries, and Africa, are primary concerns of Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of Ethiopia, Director-General of WHO.  Now we have outbreaks in industrialized countries.  Vaccine, and therapeutics have to be worked on.

Don’t get stuck thinking of it as SARS or the flu.  Get ready to buy more time, and use it really well.  Time for the Manhattan projects.  Get countries together to get enough patients.  Do the right studies.  Epidemiology.  Household studies.  Zero assays?  

Research saves Lives.

My own take on this, is that we should mobilize immediately.  We may be in the heart of any future outbreak since there are 6,700 returnees from China in California being self monitored in their homes.  They are called on a daily basis.  The United States only has 30 million masks, but should have 300 million.  The US will allocate $2.5 billion, half of which is new, and half of which is cruelly being taken from home heating for the poor.

My own take, again, is that it takes 5 days for symptoms to show up, and 7 days to need to go to a hospital.  A lot of travel, mixing, and infections can occur before that happens.  This is why the virus has shown an exponential growth in Italy.  It has also spread to other countries from that, but so far only in individual cases.  We should start with an isolating mentality now, especially in California.  Our President is more concerned about his stock market, popularity, and electability, than about preparing people for an outbreak.  He has also destroyed the entire pandemic apparatus set up by the Obama administration in response to the Ebola panic, in CDC, NIH, DHS, and HHS.  He has also cut foreign pandemic security funds from 49 countries to 10 countries. 

My own take:  clearly in these tours, the country shows its best feet forward, but that is also very useful, since we would want to emulate the best response.

About Dennis SILVERMAN

I am a retired Professor of Physics and Astronomy at U C Irvine. For a decade I have been active in learning about energy and the environment, and in lecturing and attending classes at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at UC Irvine.
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