This transcript is taken from the Stand in the Gap Today program originally aired on 2/14/20. To listen to the program, please click HERE.
Sam Rohrer: Well seemingly out of nowhere in an industrial center and Wuhan province, China. Now, that’s right in the middle of the regular flu season, comes something new, a killer sickness called the Coronavirus. The source of this virus is officially not really known, ranging from an accidental release from a highly secretive Chinese laboratory to the more frequently cited source of the uncontrolled food market with bats and other animals involved. As to the physical impacts, China’s reporting appears to be fraudulent with the infections and deaths assumed by most to be greatly understated. The quarantine methods by many, insufficient and clearly appearing to be a lot of a Gestapo like, forced incarcerations. Actually going to people’s houses, knocking the door down and forcing them out. These kinds of things are happening. And while some information is known, it certainly is changing almost by the day and perhaps there’s less known, maybe than is known. But it appears that increasing numbers of people and businesses and economic sectors are being impacted.
Sam Rohrer: So when today’s program, I’m going to focus on the coronavirus. What is it? How bad is it? Our special guest today is an authority on this matter. Her name is Dr. Jane Orient. She is the executive director of the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons. And Jane will join us today in segments two to four as we examine what we know at the moment from a medical and emergency preparedness perspective. And with that I welcome you to Stand In The Gap Today. I’m Sam Rohrer, and I’m going to be joined by Dr. Gary Dull, who has been away from us the past few days. If you have been listening you have noticed that. Glad to have him back. But before we go to the considerations of exactly what the coronavirus is, the most likely origin of this virus, as well as commentary as to the reliability of the information coming from China or the World Health Organization, even the CDC and more.
Sam Rohrer: I want to bring in right now William Parker, principal of BRI Investing, that stands for Biblically Responsible Investing. And that website is briinvesting.com, and get his thoughts here on the economic impacts of this coronavirus, at least as what we had been seeing this week. William, welcome to the program.
William Parker: Thank you Sam. Good to be here. Hey Gary, how are you?
Gary Dull: I’m doing fine Bill.
Sam Rohrer: William, I want to ask you here as we look at this, because we’ve been giving a little bit like an economic overview of the week. As I’ve been reading economic news this week and today’s headlines, it’s clear that the coronavirus is having some impact not only on China’s economy but the world economy. The question is to what extent and how likely determined by, I guess it will be by the degree of the containment or the spread of this virus, but from a top line perspective as a market observer, which you are, what areas have you seen perhaps the coronavirus most impacting the market this week?
William Parker: I would say the automotive, airline travel have been hit the hardest by this coronavirus. Travel to China has been basically cut down to a very small number of planes coming in and out of China. So it’s hurt the travel industry. It’s also hurting Macao and the other destinations that people would normally travel to. That being said, I think car manufacturers are going to be backed up with parts.
Sam Rohrer: All right. That’s one that I think a lot of people are commenting on. I noticed that the price of oil is down a little bit. That is in part related to it as well. Don’t you think?
William Parker: I’m not sure what impact it has on oil because most of the countries that produce oil are not being affected by the coronavirus. You have to remember there’s tens of thousands of people that die of the common flu every year. And I think that the most important thing here is that we don’t know if China is really telling us the true numbers about how many people are infected and how many people have passed away. I think that’s the really big question that we have.
Sam Rohrer: Well I agree. That factors into the economic commentary and that is a question we’re going to ask Dr. Jane Orient in the next segment. But an article I found a this morning, Bill, was picked up in the Washington Post but it was from Thailand economic news. And it kind of summarized the whole thing. It says quote casualties from China’s coronavirus epidemic are mounting as Asian and European auto plants run short of parts, free spending Chinese tourists staying at home and American companies bracing for an unpredictable turbulence. And they say that’s just the start of a financial hangover that they expect to, as the article says, to extend or to linger for months. Even if this flu like illness, they say, is soon brought under control.
Sam Rohrer: Now they are saying here that quote, after initially dismissing the epidemic as principally a Chinese problem, U.S. policy makers, and again this is from out of Thailand, U.S. policy makers in recent days acknowledged it will damage the global U.S. growth outlook, U.S. airlines. United and American have already stopped all flights in and out of China until April 24th at least. And that was what they have said, which is an amazing thing to me because that’s a long ways out. So from that perspective, just so people have an idea how investment, investment managers contemplate these, what do you think fund managers are likely doing now to adjust, if anything, their investment portfolios as a result of the current coronavirus impacts or perhaps the increasing impacts? In other words, it’s not shown up a whole lot yet. But are the fund managers making adjustments? And how do they do it in times like this?
William Parker: I think that they short car manufacturing, the airlines, the cruise ships, I think they short those stocks during these point in time. I think that the travel ban for airplanes is going to go out well past April because I really don’t think they have this virus under control. I think it’s a lot worse than what most people think. And I don’t see us traveling, anybody really wanting to go back to China for within a year or so.
Sam Rohrer: Yeah.
William Parker: I certainly wouldn’t want to go there.
Sam Rohrer: Well, I don’t want to go either and at this point, most Americans that are there have either, from what I am hearing, they’ve had an opportunity to leave and if they decided to stay, they’re almost committed there. Anyway, ladies and gentlemen, be aware of that. William, thanks for stepping in and giving us that overall perspective. Obviously developing, going to have some impact, ladies and gentlemen, already to some extent, maybe more. We will have to wait and see as the days unfold. William Parker, principal of BRIinvesting.com. We encourage you, ladies and gentlemen, go there and make sure that your investments are clean investments, not participating in those activities that contribute to evil things within our culture. I’ll just leave it at that for right now.
Sam Rohrer: Well Welcome back to Stand In The Gap. I’m Sam Rohrer, accompanied today by Dr. Gary Dull and our special guest now, Dr. Jane Orient, The executive director of American Association of Physicians and Surgeons. And they have a website at aapsonline.org. Our theme today is this, the coronavirus, what is it, how bad is it. When it comes to solving problems of any type really and certainly with health related problems that cause sickness and death as this virus is doing, it really is critical to accurately identify the problem. Then identify the cause and then produce a solution. But when it comes to what is referred to as the novel coronavirus, and there are some other designations being given to it, but I’m going to go with this at the moment, that according to some reports is mutating and has mutated over 20 plus times. Now, that coupled with withheld or fraudulent reporting from the Chinese communist government officials identifying exactly what it is that we’re talking about is greatly complicated. Now to help us understand in layman’s terms what the coronavirus is and more, as we go through this program, is Dr. Jane Orient. I’ve said she is the executive director of the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons. Dr. Orient, thank you for being with us today.
Jane Orient: Thank you, Sam.
Sam Rohrer: Jane, you have led and I’ll put a personal confirmation here, you’ve led the freedom and patient focused American Association of Physicians and Surgeons for years. I have worked with you on a number of medical issues when I was in the Pennsylvania General Assembly and I found your work to be valuable, accurate, and reliable. And I’m glad you’re in that space. On your website, Dr. Orient, just a couple of weeks ago, January 27th actually, you had a article that you posted. The title was this, the Coronavirus, 1918 All Over Again? My question to you, what is the coronavirus we see today? Is it just the flu or is it something far different? Can you describe exactly what we’re talking about?
Jane Orient: The coronavirus is an animal virus. It’s probably been circulating in wild animal populations for a long, long time. Doesn’t necessarily make the animal sick. But on this occasion it appears to have mutated as these viruses sometimes do, like the Ebola virus, so that it can infect humans as well as animals and be transmitted human to human without having to have any necessary contact with the animal that it came from. Viruses in the same family may simply cause a common cold. Maybe four of the different types of cold viruses are coronavirus. It is also closely to related to the SARS virus. That’s the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome virus that terrified the world a little while ago. And the MERS virus, the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome virus. It causes of a set from that is rather like influenza but has a much higher fatality rate. One reason is that it is novel. It is not infected humans for very long. So humans haven’t lived with it for years and years and years and so most people having had no prior exposure have absolutely no resistance to it.
Jane Orient: It can be much more lethal than influenza for that reason. Everyone gets upset about the tens of thousands of influenza casualties we have every year, which are mostly in older people who are chronically ill. But the mortality rate of influenza is only about one in a thousand. It appears that the mortality rate for the coronavirus, the novel coronavirus, is about two in a hundred, which is 20 times. And it’s hard to tell exactly what that is because we don’t know how many mild undiagnosed cases there are out there. Plus we do not believe that the Chinese are telling the truth about the number of fatalities. They may be only telling about the number of confirmed cases and they don’t test most of them. For one thing, the testing kits are quite scarce. So we see frightening footage that’s being smuggled out about bodies piling up in warehouses, waiting for the incinerators which are working 24/7.
Gary Dull: It’s very interesting to observe how this is sort of developing in front of our own eyes, Dr. Orient. I’ve heard that in different parts of the world, perhaps the mortality rate is higher than what we are even hearing. Do we really know what actually is the source of this virus and how did it begin to grow so rapidly?
Jane Orient: There’s a speculation that it leaked from the viral research laboratory or bio-warfare research laboratory in Wuhan. I guess it’s a possibility. Some virologists say there’s evidence that it’s bio-engineered and others say that there is no such evidence and point to the existence of Russian propaganda that may be trying to blame somebody like eventually the United States for the virus. So I don’t really know what its origin is. It is plain that viruses can and do emerge naturally from animal populations when these live in close contact with humans and outside their normal habitat.
Sam Rohrer: Okay Jane because that’s if you’re talking about accurately identifying the problem and then the cause, what I’m trying to talk about a little bit here. As we’ve already talked about it, complicating the consideration of this is the fact that the Chinese communist government, we’ve already talked about it, appears to not be telling the truth. And one thing is for sure, they are not just quarantining over 60 million people, which is about the population of the entire West coast of the United States. But they are really quarantining in my opinion, the free flow of information as well. Putting some people in jail who’ve raised questions, sent pictures. Others are just disappearing and they’re taking some that we’re hearing about, and actually uninfected people, and putting them into these camps or wherever, where there are infected people, which means that are forcibly subjecting them to possibly getting the virus.
Sam Rohrer: So to that extent, Jane, how much of a problem is, in your opinion, intentional propaganda? You referred to a Russian component piece there some may say, but how much intentional propaganda? How much intentional shaping of information to either calm the public or intentionally mislead the public as compared to maybe just incompetence? Or the fact that at this point we just don’t really know what this is all about. Kind of put that together because the facts as we are hearing are changing so much, it’s really hard for anybody to get a handle on it.
William Parker: Well, the fact is that there are so many unknowns that there really isn’t a good answer to your question. And in a sense it doesn’t matter. What we really need to know is how do we stop this from spreading worldwide. The economic implications are not just to the automobile industry and the computer industry, but very much to the medical industry. Many people do not know that the whole world, including United States, is totally dependent on China for most of our medicines, including our generic medicines. The product may be finished here or in India or someplace else, but most of the precursor ingredients come from China and they have become the sole source. The government has ignored for decades, concerns about the national security implications of making ourselves totally dependent on a foreign government for our supplies of essential things. Some have said that our pharmacy shelves could be empty in two to three months if the flow of ingredients from China ceases. This is in a book called China Rx, by Rosemary Gibson. We cannot make aspirin. We cannot make penicillin. We cannot make ciprofloxacin, which was used against anthrax. And really most of our very common essential drugs. Oh and vitamin C also now, totally comes from China.
Sam Rohrer: That I was not aware of, to that degree. I think most people have felt economically dependent. We were talking on the first segment about with so many of the industrial plants being down in China, it’s going to, well, it’s already beginning to show up where parts being used in European production, parts being used in U.S. production. There’s a certain amount of weeks, three to four weeks perhaps, that are in the pipeline and that could be used up, well actually it is being used up and that could come forth. But you are saying even in the area of our own pharmaceuticals and the kind of drugs that a lot of people would, you’re saying we’re also dependent on China for those things. That’s amazing.
Jane Orient: And for medical protective equipment. Hospitals, I’m told in Tucson, may run out of surgical masks in about a week and they may have to start delaying surgeries. We shipped our entire capacity for making medical masks to China some years ago. And again, the government just ignored complaints from some that this is a national security concern. There is one mask manufacturer in the U.S. remaining. They are swamped. They are working as fast as they can to respond to demand, especially for these N95 respirator masks, which are far more effective than plain surgical masks at protecting yourself against aerosol pollution. But the Chinese make all the masks and they need them there. So why should they ship them to us when they don’t have enough for their own people? They have do-it-yourself sewing factories in the Chinese hospitals I’m told so the nurses can try to protect themselves.
Sam Rohrer: That is very, very interesting. Ladies and gentlemen, I hope you hear what’s being said. That was news to me. I did not know that, but all the more reason when the president has been working so hard at bringing business back to the United States and he’s been saying we’ve been dependent. My suspicion is, I’m just offering this, I think he probably has known maybe better than most of us of how dependent we are.
Sam Rohrer: Welcome back to Stand In The Gap. I’m Sam Rohrer, accompanied today by Dr. Gary Dull. Our theme, the coronavirus, what is it, which we just talked about with our special guest, Dr. Jane Orient, executive director of American Association of Physicians and Surgeons, with a website at aapsonline.org. I encourage you to go there. A lot of good information and we’re going to move now from what is it, which we just spent some time going through, to now the whole idea of how bad is it. And then the last segment we’re going to talk about the best defense for it. So that’s what we’re going to do. That’s going to be the flow for the balance of the program, hoping to give a comprehensive overview of what we know at this point relative to this virus new, but as Dr. Orient said, not entirely new. But is new and it’s expanding and having significant economic impacts, potentially greater as we go down the road as well as the actual personal impacts on people’s lives.
Sam Rohrer: When attempting to solve a problem, as we talked about before, which is really the approach here. You got a problem, you’ve got to ask the right questions. And without a doubt you have to be honest and let the facts determine the conclusions. That’s essential. Unfortunately, the culture in which we live now asks questions generally in a way that they get the answer that the asker is wanting to get. They’re not honest questions and they’re not really wanting to get the answer or let the facts actually determine the solution as much as to take a situation, make it politically correct and twist and turn it to somebody’s advantage. That’s a problem. And I think that’s happening even right now.
Sam Rohrer: Now in the matter of the current coronavirus, it does appear that the facts really, really are hard to get. We’ve talked about that. Honesty and the reporting is absent to a large degree and the most pertinent questions therefore are not being asked. So this is segment right now, we’re going to ask a couple of very pointed questions to Dr. Jane Orient and to see if we can pull back the covers on some of this. Dr. Orient, Let me start here with you. An open ended question, but you can go where you want. Just how bad is the coronavirus as a virus? I’m going to put this into it. If it is mutating as quickly or as often as some are saying, I think you referred to it that you said that it is. If that’s the case, how likely is it that a vaccine then can even be created?
Jane Orient: Of course this is a problem, especially with RNA viruses like the coronavirus. They make a lot of mistakes in transcribing their genome and that means they mutate more rapidly. That’s why we have different flu vaccines every year. We might be able to get a vaccine. We might not. We don’t know how effective it would be. We don’t know what its side effects would be, whether the vaccine might even do more harm than good, like the swine flu vaccine at the time of the swine flu scare back in the 1970s. We really don’t know exactly how bad this virus is. One very important feature is what are the age groups that are attacked by this? The 1918 flu virus, instead of felling primarily older, chronically ill people, attacked young people who were working in the prime of their lives. And if this happens on a wide scale, I feel like the people who are responsible for keeping the country working, the people who drive the trucks, the people who keep the electricity falling and the people who just do the things that our technologic society depends upon, things could really collapse very quickly.
Jane Orient: And it appears that the median age of people attacked by the coronavirus may be lower than we’re used to. And then the other impact is just how seriously does it damage the body. If you get the flu, you might get pneumonia and it might be bacterial and you might recover from that and you would be normal after you get well. But this virus also appears in some cases to cause multiorgan failure, which means some of the people not only have a severe pneumonia that requires ventilation artificially, but kidney failure. And 12% of the people who reported in the Lancet toward the end of January had cardiac damage. So this would explain how it could happen, that a healthy person would be walking down the street and fall over dead as was reported, and maybe people didn’t believe it, but this is one mechanism by which it could happen.
Gary Dull: It’s a serious thing obviously to observe. And in some of the things I’ve been reading, it’s difficult to really come to a conclusion as to how many people have been infected by this particular virus. I mean, it’s anywhere from 25,000 to maybe 150,000 people have been infected by it. They tell us that the deaths range from anywhere from 1200 to 2000 per day, as I understand it. Is that correct? Or is that in the entire period of time that the virus has been before us? But my real question for you, Dr. Orient, is what is more than likely the truth on the number of infections and deaths thus far, as far as you know?
Jane Orient: Well, I don’t have any better way of knowing than anybody else does. I’ve heard speculation that maybe there have been as many as 80,000 casualties already. But the official count is under 2000 I think. Although it gets higher day-by-day. Without getting reliable facts, one doesn’t know I as I understand it, the United States CDC is still barred entry so we cannot send our own scientists to make an independent assessment.
Sam Rohrer: And that appears to be a part of the problem, Jane, is that’s what I am reading as well. And Gary mentioned about 2000. That was 2000 in total, what we’re getting. Not 2000 a day. The hundred a day is a number that’s been floating out there and some of those reports have come from some of these individuals who have been on the ground that have shot pictures and have sent some things out. And they’ve subsequently disappeared where they’re saying that the deaths, they’ve been cremating bodies effectively at a hundred per day. And so that’s part of what you’re talking about. Going back to your article that we just talked about briefly and you just talked about it, the 1918, could it be 1918 all over again? Since this virus appears to be spread by people who are not showing signs of contagion, meaning they don’t have a fever, they’re not contagious as far as one a test would go.
Sam Rohrer: Those differences I’ve seen have shown that they can be contagious up to 14 days. And some reports have even suggested that they found it perhaps could be up to 24 days. Some say it’s spread through direct contact other through the air other ways. But it makes the likelihood of expansion pretty high. In your opinion, our governments generally including our own, comment on what China’s doing, but comment what’s happening here too. Are governments taking precautions commensurate with what is known or perhaps are they doing too much or do you think from a preparedness perspective doing too little? How would you rate all of that?
Jane Orient: I think the danger is always in these circumstances either overreacting or under-reacting. If you cause a panic and it crashes the economy and then of course you’ll be severely criticized, which just the only thing the politicians probably care about. But if you under-react you could have 1918 style pandemic. So it is very hard to know. And if you have people spreading the disease for 14 or 24 days without appearing sick or maybe even never getting sick, that is really a disaster. There are tests that may be better than just taking a temperature since not everybody gets a fever, that your airway makes molecules that are kind of like distress signals, like nitric oxide when they are first infected. So maybe there’s a breathalyzer that we could deploy that could detect sickness a lot sooner than we otherwise could. And this would make our efforts to track and quarantine infected individuals much more effective.
Sam Rohrer: Well that’s interesting, but I’ve got to ask you this. If a lot of those things, including the masks are themselves made in China, that could take a good solution and make it even more complicated because of the fact we’ve become so dependent on China. You think so?
Jane Orient: Right. And if you want to be prepared for catastrophe, you really need to have reserve capacity in your own country and not be dependent on outside sources. None of this just in time inventory that could just fail for all kinds of reasons. Just any disruption in transportation. And by the way, that applies to our supermarkets also that we have just in time inventories of food and all kinds of essential supplies.
Sam Rohrer: No, you are absolutely correct and we’ve talked about that on the program as well from a preparedness perspective that people really ought to have a set of food set aside because most cities only have it for two to three days. And that would make a real big issue.
_____________________________________________________________________________________As we move into our final segment now, just like to remind all of you who are listening to the program to use our resources that we put before you.
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Sam Rohrer: Jane, in matters of real potential danger, and we’re talking about one in the health care issue, but really we’re confronted with it all the way throughout our whole life. I mean, tornadoes, hurricanes, threats of war, whatever it may be, we’re presented with these things regularly. And that’s why we have local emergency response teams all across the country because you never know. But in every case, a proper response is needed. And based on the facts, certain legitimate responses are in order. If you get a tornado warning, you go downstairs or you go somewhere. If you don’t, then you incur a risk. Now in the case of bogus threats like global warming, I’m going to put there and so forth. Those are just efforts to try and scare people and to move the populace into some kind of a politically direction. And most of the time it’s still looking towards the government and asking people to give up their freedom.
Sam Rohrer: But in other cases, ignoring true warnings can be fatal. And so we need calmness, we need clear headedness and we need the facts to drive us. In this particular issue, Dr. Jane Orient, all we’ve talked about today, if we were to sum up what we’re talking about here today with this coronavirus, with what we know at this point. And it may change down the road, but what we know at this point, on a scale of one to 10 as far as sicknesses go, how serious is this threat of coronavirus to the world and particularly to the average American? Where do we sit on a scale of one to 10, 10 being the worst, one being the least?
Jane Orient: Well, you’re asking me another unanswerable question. It could be one. If you get it, it might just be a cold. Or it could be a 10 if you could get it, it could shut down your kidneys and you’d be on a ventilator and unable to oxygenate your blood. It really is that variable. And how contagious it is, well that hasn’t been completely determined. We don’t know how easily it has shed by aerosols or by contact with surfaces. So it’d be somebody sneezes on a table and you touch it and then you touch your eyes or your mouth, then how contagious is it and how long does the virus survive on those surfaces?
Gary Dull: I understand now that they are referring to this officially is COVID-19. And that might be something good for our listeners to take into consideration. But Dr. Orient, based upon everything that we discussed here in the program today, what can you recommend to our listers about being able to guard themselves against this particular virus? What can they do both offensively and defensively in protecting themselves?
Jane Orient: I think we’re in the same situation now as we were in 1918, that the only reliable thing we have is public health measures. That means quarantine. That means avoiding infection, staying away from crowds, staying home if you’re sick, staying away from sick people, washing your hands meticulously with soap and water, scrubbing for 20 seconds at least, disinfecting any surfaces that you think might be contaminated. Fortunately this is an enveloped virus, which is susceptible to alcohol-based sanitizers. But above all, you need to be able to self-isolate if things look like they’re really coming to your town. And a lot of people can’t really do that. One expert on emerging viral diseases, said this could have been stopped in China in two weeks if people had just stayed home. But maybe they didn’t know to do that or maybe they really can’t. I mean that could be hard to do if you don’t have the medicine or food that you need in your house. Of course in a panic, you may not be able to get it anyway, but you might be in a frantic crowd getting infected to what anybody has. So just prudent preparedness and careful attention to hygiene are two very, very powerful defenses and absolutely essential.
Sam Rohrer: And Dr. Orient, a lot of what you’re saying right there is just common sense. I know a lot of common sense has gone out the window of late, but common sense, washing your hands. If you’re sick, don’t subject other people to that same thing. And that really is something that ought to be observed even if there was no such thing as coronavirus. Just being sick, be considerate of other people. Don’t go and sit in the crowd and cough and that kind of thing. Or if you’re going to have to cough, cover your mouth. Ladies and gentlemen, hear what Dr. Orient is saying. A lot of it is just basically common sense. Stay away from crowds if you’re sick. If you are on compromised form, stay away because it may come your way. Wash your hands, do it right. Watch what you touch in public surfaces, that kind of thing. That’s just common sense. Jane, anything else on your website? You have a newsletter or anything that people may want to sign up for where you can give them information along this line or other things that you want to?
Jane Orient: You can write to me at Jane@aapsonline.org or you can go to the Doctors for Disaster Preparedness website, DDPonline.org. And look especially at our September, 2019 newsletter on pandemic preparedness. This just fortuitously came out just before the coronavirus panic and has links to a lot of, to several books that have excellent advice on how to take care of a family member who’s sick, to try to protect the rest of the family and what you need to try to protect yourself.
Sam Rohrer: Give that website one more time please.
Jane Orient: DDPonline.org. Click on newsletters and then go to the September issue on pandemic preparedness.
Sam Rohrer: All right. Thank you Dr. Jane Orient for being with us today. And ladies and gentlemen, thank you for being with us. Again, go to the websites, standinthegapradio.com or on the app, listen to the program. Again, forward this along. Hopefully it was comprehensive enough and practical enough to be usable by you. And until we meet again on Monday, everyone who are listening stand in the gap to prove who you are.