Dr. Noreen Khan-Mayberry is a medical scientist, an expert in global disasters and bioterrorism and the chief toxicologist at NKM Environmental Health Services in Houston. Rolling out recently spoke with her about COVID-19 and ways to avoid spreading the virus.
What makes this virus so different?
COVID-19 is one of a group of several coronaviruses. These viruses are common, but this particular strain, Corona Virus Disease-19 is a novel and more deadly than other previous strains, especially for our elderly population. COVID-19 is thought to have originated from bats — similar to SARS [severe aute respiratory syndrome] and MERS [Middle East respiratory syndrome] coronaviruses.
In comparison, the H1N1 swine flu global pandemic originated from pigs and only had a global death rate of 0.2 percent. COVID-19’s death rate has yet to be fully determined. We are currently seeing fatality rates in the range of 2 percent to 4 percent. More concerning is people without symptoms are walking around infecting others. The lack of available testing that is sensitive enough to detect low levels of the virus [and] antibodies is also leading to false negatives. And while people 60 years or older have much higher fatality rates, people as young as 40 are being affected.
Why is it important for people to be properly informed?
You should only trust trained medical scientists and health professionals that have experience with pandemics, viruses and disaster response. Organizations such as the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control [and Prevention] are organizations you can trust.
Click over to the next page for five ways people can stop the spread of the coronavirus.