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Point/Counterpoint: Two Views From the Medical Field on the Coronavirus

Mar 18, 2020 by

Yesterday, we published Dr. Julie Foucher-Urcuyo’s OpEd “Coronavirus and the CrossFit Community: A Call to Action”. In the OpEd, Foucher-Urcuyo argued:

This is an opportunity that we as a CrossFit community have to do the right thing, and lead from the front. Yes, as a group we are more likely to fare well when infected with the coronavirus and be part of the 80% with mild disease…

Take steps now to protect our vulnerable populations, first responders, and health care workers. After all, the more people with chronic disease we save from the coronavirus, the more people we’ll have to welcome into our affiliates with open arms, ready to change their lives so that they, too, can build a buffer against sickness for when the next threat comes along.

On March 17, the CrossFit Email of the Day included a link to an OpEd by Dr. John P.A. Ioannidis, a professor of medicine, epidemiology, population health and biomedical data science at Stanford University entitled “A Fiasco in the Making?: As the Coronavirus Pandemic Takes Hold, we are making Decisions without Reliable Data.” In the article, Dr. Ioannidis took a different approach, arguing:

The current coronavirus disease, Covid-19, has been called a once-in-a-century pandemic. But it may also be a once-in-a-century evidence fiasco.

At a time when everyone needs better information, from disease modelers and governments to people quarantined or just social distancing, we lack reliable evidence on how many people have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 or who continue to become infected. Better information is needed to guide decisions and actions of monumental significance and to monitor their impact…

The data collected so far on how many people are infected and how the epidemic is evolving are utterly unreliable. Given the limited testing to date, some deaths and probably the vast majority of infections due to SARS-CoV-2 are being missed. We don’t know if we are failing to capture infections by a factor of three or 300. Three months after the outbreak emerged, most countries, including the U.S., lack the ability to test a large number of people and no countries have reliable data on the prevalence of the virus in a representative random sample of the general population.

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