UW News

February 7, 2020

Soundbites & B-roll: UW expert answers questions about the novel coronavirus pandemic

UW News

Dr. Judith Wasserheit, chair of the UW Department of Global Health in the School of Public Health and part of the UW MetaCenter for Pandemic Preparedness and Global Health Security, answers questions about the novel coronavirus outbreak, its spread, the level of concern and how to best protect yourself.

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Download soundbites and b-roll

Forum: Coronavirus and Pandemic Disease Preparedness

Join Dr. Judith Wasserheit and more than a dozen other UW School of Public Health, School of Medicine and regional public health experts for this public forum on the novel coronavirus outbreak. Get more details and register for the event.

In addition to the soundbites video quotes, Dr. Wasserheit pointed out that the global scientific response to the viral outbreak has been an important part of the story: 

“What would normally take months to years, has been reduced to just days and weeks. In less that six weeks, we’ve gone from the initial report of this cluster by the Chinese government to the development of diagnostics, the start of clinical trials for treatments and having multiple groups working on vaccines.”

Quotes from Dr. Wasserheit from the video:

“The reason that we’re so concerned about this virus and this epidemic is – first of all – this virus is easily transmitted, it’s a respiratory virus. So if I’m infected and I sneeze or cough, it’s very easy for me to give it to somebody else. The second reason is that it’s a new virus. So we don’t have, as a population, immunity already to this virus. We haven’t seen it before.”

“The three most important things you can do to protect yourself, if you are currently healthy, are the things your mother would have told you. First of all, wash your hands regularly with soap for at least 20 seconds. Secondly, if you haven’t got your flu vaccine already, get it because this is the season for colds and flu, and the last thing you want to do is to be going in to the doctor or the ER where other people may be coming in who have this infection, and you’re exposed to them, but you could have prevented getting the flu. And the third thing is that if you do actually develop a cough or a respiratory infection, then stay home during that time. If you get really sick, see your doctor. And, for the people around you, cover your nose when you cough or sneeze!”

“There’s tremendous expertise across the University of Washington in pandemic disease and global health security, from basic research all the way to public health interventions. And we have actually brought that together in a University of Washington MetaCenter for Pandemic Disease Preparedness and Global Health Security.” 

“This epidemic of the coronavirus will definitely not be the last time that this country and the world faces the outbreak of a pathogen with pandemic potential. We are seeing this more and more frequently, and these outbreaks have greater severity and magnitude. And so we definitely need to be better prepared in the future. That’s one of the most important lessons from the coronavirus outbreak.”