Dr. Fauci, demonstrating his superhuman patience, appeared on Laura Ingraham’s show yesterday:
INGRAHAM: We don’t have a vaccine for SARS or HIV. Life went on, right?
FAUCI: HIV/AIDS is very different. We have effective treatments. And SARS went away. So your comparison is misleading.
I: But coronavirus could disappear too.
F: These kind of viruses don’t just disappear. pic.twitter.com/YptrqViRQx
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 17, 2020
But wait. This isn’t a dumb question. Why did SARS “go away”? And if SARS went away, why can’t COVID-19 go away too? Is COVID-19 just easier to transmit? Yes indeed:
SARS and MERS have significantly higher case fatality rates than COVID-19. Yet COVID-19 is more infectious — the underlying SARS-CoV-2 virus spreads more easily among people, leading to greater case numbers.
COVID-19 is more infectious because the mechanism of transmission is different:
Once SARS jumped to humans, it was transmitted from person to person. It is most virulent during the second week of infection when virus excretions through the mucus and stool peak. With SARS, most human-to-human infections occurred in health care settings that lacked robust infection control procedures. When infection control practices were implemented, the outbreak ended. Since then, the only occurrences have occurred through laboratory accidents. They have not spread throughout the community.
COVID-19 appears to spread person-to-person, through droplets that are expelled when a person coughs or sneezes and then are inhaled by a nearby person. Less often, it may be spread by touching an infected surface and then touching one’s mouth, nose, or eyes. Transmission may also occur before a person becomes symptomatic. As the CDC cautions, “COVID-19 is a new disease and we are still learning how it spreads.”
So the big difference is that COVID-19 spreads via coughs and sneezes in the general population, and that’s inherently much harder to control than mucus and stool transmission. If anybody has more to add to this, let us know in comments.