Doctor Spudd is the founder and creator of a satirical magazine The Science Post. But what you may not know is Dr. Spudd is an alias for an epidemiologist who studied infection control in Newfoundland and Labrador.
With COVID -19 at the forefront of the world’s top news, we asked Dr. Spudd to chat with us in a non satirical format and give insight to the ongoing pandemic.
Q: The main question on everyone’s mind is – when will this be over ?
A: I think it’s going to peak in Canada and the US in the next two or three weeks, which means it will be at the top of it’s reported cases and slowly start to slow down, which I’m guessing will take until the early summer until it tails off. This is assuming that social distancing remains in place.
Q: So does that mean I can go out in crowds after it peaks ?
A: No absolutely not. You can go out in groups when the Public Health Agency of Canada tells you you can. Which is unpredictable. The rise and fall of this is an educated guess but it’s by no means guarantee. I know people need a deadline on this for sanity’s sake and I can relate to that, but for now accept this as the new normal until we are in the clear. That clearing will be communicated to you by the Public Health agency when the time comes.
Q: Is it airborne?
A: According to the latest evidence from the WHO the virus is only transmissible through respiratory droplets (sneezing and coughing) and contact (which means I cough on my hand, you touch my hand and then your face.) The virus doesn’t linger in the air but it’s still too early to say that definitively.
Q: Can I go visit my mudder?
A: No. Simply said they are recommending non urgent interaction with people outside of your household.
Q: Can I make out with my husband- cause I’m bored?
A: Provided that both of you have not travelled in recent weeks and have not come in contact with any confirmed cases and you are not showing symptoms.
You’ll see a baby boom in about nine to ten months.
Q: Do gloves and masks actually work?
A: Gloves are not necessarily effective in protection. Some countries are advising to wear a mask because you could be asymptotic and not know you’re capable of spreading the virus. In Canada, public health officials have maintained you do not need to wear a mask because it gives a false sense of security. The WHO is reevaluating their studies based on countries where they do wear masks to prevent the spread of the virus.
Q: So when I go grocery shopping, I shouldn’t wear gloves ?
A: That’s not what I meant, don’t rely on gloves. Definitely wear gloves but it’s not the ultimate blockade. When you’re wearing gloves, the point is not to touch the virus, but people still touch their face with their gloves and touch contaminated objects. You have to wash your hands. Wash your hands.
Q: I heard that this is all a conspiracy and it was started by the Chinese government to help their economy- thoughts?
A: There is absolutely no evidence for that. The only issue that has been reported is that China didn’t report the number of cases in a timely manner, making it harder for the world to respond quickly. A pandemic and a virus is not controllable- it’s impossible for a country to predict all the necessary variables needed to fall in place perfectly to benefit from a hypothetical outcome. It’s too precarious and uncontrollable for reliance. Also, no one is gaining more than they are losing in this pandemic.
Q: Why isn’t there a vaccine yet and when is it coming?
A: There isn’t a vaccine because this is a new virus. It’s part of the carona virus family, but it’s called the novel coronavirus- meaning it’s new. We haven’t seen it before. Vaccines don’t actually take a long time to make, but they take a long time to test. Like a lot of medicine there are potential side effects especially with something new. That’s why we do testing. The last thing we want to do is release a vaccine to the public and it contain a lot of side effects. Vaccines that have already been brought to the market, have gone through vigorous and timely testing. It’s takes a long time to test because it has to go through three phases of trials and the last of which is human trials. A regular vaccine takes years to come to market, but with finances and government collaboration that process can be accelerated.
Q: Once humans have tested it- how long do they wait to have them react until they are in the clear and the vaccine is safe ?
A: Thats why it’s hard to speed it up, a lot of vaccines take one to four years for safety issues and effectiveness. Scientists wait a long time to see if there are reactions- long and short term.
Q: I heard I could just take the medicine they use for malaria – the guy from Lost said it worked for him?
A: There is currently no good evidence that this will help coronavirus or symptoms. All the data is purely anecdotal- like that one guy from Lost. It’s likely that he already had mild symptoms and would have recovered in the same manner without the drug. We can never know. There is no way to know that’s why he felt ok. As they say, the plural of anecdote is not data. It’s an isolated one off example. There are some studies going on to see if this medicine is effective.
Q: What does social distancing actually mean? Can my friends and I hang out in the front yard and stay 6 feet apart?
A: No. I would advise against that as there is no way that you will remain 6 feet apart at all times. Everyone is recommending to not hang out with anyone outside of your immediate household. Listen, it’s not worth the risk. As tempting as it all feels right now, this is short term in the grand midst of everything. If a woman can grow a baby for nine months, we can stay inside for a few. I know it sucks, but it doesn’t suck as much as spreading this virus. It may seem harmless to go to a friend’s for dinner, just two of you one on one, a table width apart but think of it like the sex theory. Whoever you sleep with, you’re sleeping with anyone they ever slept with. So your dinner buddy, who went to Walmart last night, you also went to Walmart with them and their kids, and anyone they have been in contact with. It’s too difficult to monitor. So stay home, go outside solo or with your family. Video call whoever you miss. That’s it.
If you have any more questions regarding the pandemic, please feel free to comment or email my personal email: firstname.lastname@example.org and we can get Dr. Spudd to answer you as soon as he can (if he has the answer!)