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The novel coronavirus is spreading quickly in many areas of the globe. Thus, scientific understanding of the virus is evolving fast. Find out what researchers know thus far, how long the world must wait for a vaccine, and what pressing epidemiological questions remain in this scientific but accessible talk from epidemiologist and SARS expert David Heymann.


For most people, the novel coronavirus manifests mildly, similar to a common cold, but health care workers, the elderly and those with chronic pre-existing conditions face graver risks.

By February 27, 2020, an outbreak of the novel coronavirus had infected some 82,000 people across the globe [Editor’s note: The virus that causes coronavirus disease, COVID-19, and the 2019-20 coronavirus outbreak is officially referred to as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, SARS-CoV-2]. Deaths from the virus totaled 2,810. In most people, the virus exhibits symptoms similar to a common cold.

But for certain groups, the virus poses graver risks. For instance, exposure to higher doses of the virus and a lack of immunity put health care workers in danger of serious infections. In developing countries, proper medical care is scarce for many inhabitants, heightening the coronavirus threat for all, but especially for older people who lack...

About the Speaker

Epidemiologist David Heymann directed the World Health Organization’s reaction to the 2003 SARS breakout. He is a professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene.

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