It becomes facile for the healthcare organizations and government to combat infectious disease outbreaks like the one present coronavirus, if they are prepared with complete information and a disease model which provides a blueprint on how should we approach, what measures to take, when is the correct timing to perform certain tasks, which vaccinations and treatments to give, where the disease is located and many other questions that usually need to be answered and are important to prevent the spreading of the infectious disease and more outbreaks. Research always helps to bring out solutions and understand a situation from all angels.

John Drake, Distinguished Research Professor of Ecology at the University of Georgia and director of its Center for the Ecology of Infectious Diseases, shared his thoughts about the current outbreak and how disease modeling can help manage the spread of infectious diseases when he was asked these questions:

How do disease models help us track and predict what might happen during an outbreak?

When asked this question, John explained how creating a model about anything can be helpful for properly understanding all the information one already has with him and then putting it into a framework to bring out conclusions. Since any type of zoonosis is quite difficult to comprehend, coronavirus, being the newest one in the edition, it has left the scientists and the medical professionals think. Due to this, everyone has a little data and more questions since it has piqued curiosity and the ones suffering are desperate to find out the answers. John informed in his interview that many of the scientists have looked at related viruses like SARS and MERS and are asking, ‘Well, what if this virus spreads in the same way? What might the pattern of a spread look like?’

A number of organizations have reported something called an  R0 in relation to the coronavirus. Can you explain what this term means?

“R is the symbol that scientists conventionally use to talk about that number of secondary causes, and R0, or “R naught” as we say, is the number of secondary cases that you would expect from one infected person – patient zero – in a population that’s otherwise completely susceptible. An R0 of less than one is for a virus in a population that can’t sustain itself through human-to-human transmission. In contrast, any time that you have an R0 that’s greater than one, you have the potential for an outbreak. The higher the R0 the larger the potential outbreak and the faster that it spreads.

Are you concerned that the current coronavirus outbreak could turn into a pandemic?

John advised on this that the pandemic or widespread transmission cannot be prevented if healthcare organizations and governments aren’t successful in containing it.  Also, he said that awareness and initiatives taken by people themselves will play an important role in ending the transmission. Ill people should immediately concern a doctor or report to the nearest clinic, also treating the present cases in isolation should be a must. John said,” The key in containment is to reduce the reproduction number — the effective number of secondary cases that arise from any infected case that might move to a new location — to reduce that below one.”