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Coronavirus: Questions and Answers
CNN's Anderson Cooper, Dr. Sanjay Gupta and guests answer your questions about the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Guests include Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Leana Wen, Dr. Celine Gounder, Dr. Mike Ryan, Dr. Gretchen Schmelzer and more.
- Are there long-term complications for people who recover from coronavirus?Anderson Cooper: Dawn in Connecticut sent in this video.
Dawn (viewer):Is there emerging evidence for any long term complications for people who recover from covid19? And if so, how debilitating are they?
Dr. Marie Van Kerkhove: So that's a very good question. And we're now starting to learn about how people are recovering from covid19. There are more than a million people that have recovered. Many people are doing very well. There may be some individuals who will have some long term effe...Show morects, it depends on how how severe the virus was and what disease that they had. We are seeing some individuals that are having some long term problems with their lungs and breathing. But we need to follow individuals over time. Just because they test negative and they're released from hospital, there needs to be rehabilitation. There needs to be follow up.May 20, 2020
- If you are infected with coronavirus, can you be infected again?Dr. Sanjay Gupta: Linda in Wichita, Kansas, sent in this video.
Linda (viewer): I know that there are two strains of the coronavirus, both the European and the Chinese. My question is, if you have one, are you immune from the other? Or is it possible to get the different strain a second time?
Dr. Maria Van Kerhove: There are virologists and scientists all over the world looking at this, that the viruses that are circulating all over the world and there are...Show more currently more than 16,000 full genome sequences that are publicly available and that people are comparing. There are several groupings of these viruses that are circulating and what we understand from them is that their normal changes in the virus. Viruses changes change all the time but they're small changes and they don't change the way the virus behaves. The question that she asked about, if you're infected with one, can you be infected with another? The question is, if you are infected with the covid19 virus, can you be infected again?
What we're learning is that people who are infected with the covid19 virus can develop an immune response. We don't currently understand how strong that immune response is and for how long it will last. And until we know that, we don't know how long people are protected. But based on our past experience with other corona viruses, that protection lasts months to years. So it isn't a lifelong thing unless, this virus is different. But those studies are under way to currently understand protection.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta: Can I just ask a quick question about that? Because it comes up all the time. Sure. And ordered like if you wanted to know, does it last two years? Are you saying you wouldn't know until you've studied it for two years to see if people are still protective of that point? Or are there ways to find these answers out more quickly in the lab, taking some of the antibodies, putting it in a test tube with the virus and seeing if it neutralizes the virus? Wouldn't that tell you the answer to this very important question more quickly?
Dr. Maria Van Kerhove: Yes, so there are ways in which you can look at the type of antibody response and the type of response that you have in the body looking at neutralizing antibodies. There's also a t-cell response that you can look at. Those studies are on your way and in a couple of countries right now where they're looking at patients and they're trying to really understand what does the immune response in individuals look like. The other way we do that is indeed follow people over time. But we should say that we do expect people who are infected to mount a response, mount an immune response. We just need to know for how long that will last.May 15, 2020
- Is hyperinflammatory syndrome in children a mutation of coronavirus?Anderson Cooper: This is a question that Cheryl sent in, it reads…Is what's happening now to children a mutation of the virus? Maria, we should point out it's now being called multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children. Can you talk about that?
Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove: Yes. We have actually called this the hyperinflammatory syndrome and this is something that was alerted to us from clinicians in the U.K. and we raised this with our global network of clinicians that we speak to regularly m...Show moreultiple times per week. These are hundreds of clinicians across the globe that meet together through teleconferences to share experiences of dealing with patients. At the alert that we received of this from the United Kingdom, we raised it with all of our clinicians and said, are you seeing this? This is what we can describe in as. Are you seeing this in your countries? What does it look like?
From that which happened a few weeks ago, we pulled together a case definition which will help us to define which children may have this type of syndrome and pull together a case report form because we need to collect information from these patients, from the children to better understand what the disease is. Is this affecting children on a regular basis? It still seems to be rare, although we're hearing more and more reports of that. But this is because people are on the lookout. But we need to systematically collect information to know if it's associated with covid19 or not. We still don't know that. It maybe. But we need this information to better understand more. Because some of the children that have tested positive for covid19, and others haven't.May 15, 2020
- Are the coronavirus antibody tests accurate?Anderson Cooper: I want to get to a viewer question, Sanjay, this first one reads, I had a positive antibody test with 90 percent reliability. A month later, I had a second antibody test, which was negative and has ninety five percent reliability. Now, I must have a third test because of a false reading, because of these errors. Shouldn't everyone be tested twice for antibodies?
Dr. Sanjay Gupta: There's a lot there. So first of all, I should just say we don't have enough tests. So the idea o...Show moref people getting tested multiple times for antibodies, we're probably not at that point. If we talked about the diagnostic (coronavirus) test having high false negatives, meaning people have the virus, but they think they don't (false negative).
The concern with the (coronavirus) antibody test is false positives. The idea that you think you have antibodies but you really don't. There are too many tests out there that just are not very good tests. So a lot of friends of mine ask me all the time, should I go get the antibody test? Problem is that unless we get to the point where you can have really low false positives with regard to these antibody tests, it's hard to really read into it. We still don't know what exactly is antibodies mean, how long they provide protection or how strong. So we're going to get there. But I think right now is not the time probably to drill down second or third test with antibodies.May 15, 2020
- For a 1,000 mile trip, is it safer to travel by plane or car?Anderson Cooper: This is a question David of Florida sent in, it reads, which is safer for a thousand mile trip, traveled by plane or travel by car.
Dr. Wen: From a Covid19 perspective, traveling by car is safer, especially if you're going to drive yourself, then you're in control. You know what's around you. You can even be very careful at rest stops and make sure that you wash your hands carefully. If you're in a plane, you're in an enclosed space with potentially with a lot of people for ...Show morea prolonged period of time. So I would drive, unless you have concerns with safety driving too.May 15, 2020
- Is there an "ideal" amount of testing needed to deal with the coronavirus?Dr. Sanjay Gupta: Is there an ideal amount of testing because we keep hearing these various numbers. I'm not sure the numbers matter as much. What would you like to see as the former acting CDC director, the right amount of testing?
0Dr. Richard Besser (former CDC Director): The goal with testing is to try and identify every case that you can, because every case that you can, not just the sickest cases, who who may need to go into the hospital for special care. But every case that's out there...Show more could be the spark that starts another outbreak in your community that gets out of control. So as we're thinking about shifting to carefully, slowly reopening the economy, getting more people back to work, you have to embrace the fight and say, what can we do to ensure that we're identifying every case? Clearly, the number of tests that we're doing is not adequate and we're not even getting the data in terms of testing by race and ethnicity. Yet we know that blacks and Latinos and Native Americans are getting hit so much harder. So until we can fully see the problem that we're dealing with, we can't even think about opening the economy much more than we have.May 15, 2020
- Is it safe for college students to go back to campus in the fall without a coronavirus vaccine or treatment?Anderson Cooper: Julie in Michigan sent in this video.
Julie (viewer): Many universities are saying they're planning to resume on campus instruction in the fall. Am I missing something? How can I send my 20 year old son back to school without a vaccine or treatment? I don't see kids in college practicing safe social distancing.
Dr. Wen: I'm also concerned for that same reason. Colleges, especially if they are residential spaces and dorms, there are lots of young people ...Show morein one place at one at one time. And social distancing, I think, is hard at the best of times. And we know that young people tend to not get as sick as older individuals with chronic illnesses, but young people do get sick too as we're hearing about and also young people can be the vectors for transmission within that community and with their family members, too. So I think we have to do everything we can now to increase that testing, tracing, isolation capacity. But in the meantime, I'm not sure how exactly campuses are going to open safely in the fall either.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta: Perhaps even at universities. Right. I mean, the testing, when we say widespread, having that sort of testing available in locations, I think may be important as well. We'll see.May 15, 2020
- Q: If restaurants installed partitions between tables at restaurants, could that help reduce the possible spread of the virus?Anderson Cooper: Sanjay, this is a question that Michael sent in. It reads...There seems to be a common assumption that restaurants will have to keep tables six feet apart. That may mean economic disaster for the restaurants would not be at least as safe to install partitions between tables?
Dr. Sanjay Gupta: I think that that that could help. We're in that sort of harm reduction. These are not ideal scenarios at this point. It's distance apart from people. It's also duration that you're in r...Show moreestaurants. When we looked at that study that came out of China. Anderson, you remember well, 53 minutes, these people at the table and nine people got infected around them. Partitions might help with that, but I don't think that's going to be a fail-safe. I think we're gonna have to have a better strategy going forward.May 15, 2020
- Does Dr. Van Kerkhove (from WHO) agree with Dr. Fauci that the U.S. is opening up too soon?Dr. Sanjay Gupta: There's a concern, as you know, from even from Dr. Fauci here in the United States, that we're opening up too quickly. We're not following the guidelines set out by the CDC. I mean, this is a big point of debate right now, as you probably know. Do you agree with Dr. Fauci?
Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove: Yes, I share his concern. We have been saying for a while now that with the lifting and the adjustment of the measures that have been put in place, it needs to be done in a slow an...Show mored a steady way and it cannot be done all at once. It should not be done all at once. There needs to be a data driven approach to this. So in areas where you're considering lifting some of these measures, you need to do a proper assessment. You know, what is the risk? What is the risk of resurgence? Do we actually have this under control? Are we looking hard enough? Do we have surveillance in place? Do we have contact tracers in place? Do we have hospital beds? And if the answer is no, then you need to really consider. Are we ready to open this up? I would fully appreciate people wanting to get back to work and wanting to get back to quote unquote normal. But we need to define what this new normal is. There needs to be a balance of minimizing the risk of resurgence, protecting people while getting the economy going back again. It's not public health or economy. It has to be bothMay 15, 2020
- What does “harm reduction” mean - related to the future of coronavirus in the U.S.?Anderson Cooper: I want ask you about something that you wrote in an Op Ed in the Washington Post. It brings up the concept of “harm reduction”. You say quote, “…no longer trying to eliminate the virus, but instead we are accepting that Americans will have to live with it…” Can you just explain what you mean by that? Is that now what is going on?
Dr. Leana Wen: I think so. We had a strategy before. That strategy was that we would reduce the number of infections and at the same...Show more time build up our capabilities to do the testing, tracing, isolation. We know that's what's going to be effective. But we're reopening before those capabilities are in place. So in essence, we're saying it's too hard. We're not going to be able to get there. And so we're switching to a new phase, which in public health we know as “harm reduction”, knowing that what we do has risk. What is it that we can do to try to reduce the risk as much as possible? So people shouldn't be going to restaurants, ideally not going to school and daycare. But if that has to happen, can we try to maximize social distancing? Can we not have students congregating in small spaces? Can we try to do as much outdoor activity as possible and change the ventilation system? I mean, I hate that we're in this position, but if we are, then we should do everything we can to reduce the risk for ourselves, our loved ones and people around us, too.May 15, 2020