Coronavirus is a respiratory virus that
we’ve had in human populations for as long as there have been humans. It is
possible for there to be new coronaviruses when somebody is around an
animal that has an animal version of coronavirus and then it’s able to mix
with a human coronavirus and create something new kind of like how
influenza can do that. But then the challenge becomes that it’s a new virus
and so the human immune system hasn’t seen that virus before and so then
people are more likely to be contagious because they don’t have a natural immunity
already built up from prior exposure. So I think that’s why we’re
seeing this new corona virus moving quickly through different populations.
We definitely saw that in China in that city and area of China where many people
got infected very quickly, and then as this coronavirus has moved into
different populations, then that process has then started to play out again,
and the example of that would be in Italy where we’re seeing widespread
coronavirus infection because people don’t have immunity so it’s more
likely to spread through the community. And also I think in many other countries
now we’re seeing widespread coronavirus. Also here in the United States,
we’re having spread particularly in Washington, California, New York City,
for similar reasons: somebody has the virus and is exposed to somebody
that’s not immune and then the virus is likely to spread. The way the virus
spreads is as we have thought before, and like other corona viruses, it’s a respiratory virus.
So coughing, sneezing, it’s in our phlegm and in our sputum. We think
primarily this is what’s called a droplet virus, so that means that these
droplets generally fall to the ground within three to four feet, so that’s why you
might be seeing guidance about staying at least six feet away from each other for
example. That’s where that comes from is that’s how droplets fall to the ground. There have been rare reports, probably
people that are really sick who are coughing and sneezing a lot,
putting this coronavirus into the air in what we’d call an airborne manner.
That’s a lot less common, but I think possible, so that’s why with
in especially health care communities and different facilities that are caring
for patients, you see this discussion about how to best protect patients and
families and health care workers between airborne and droplet precautions. That’s
where that comes from.