Dr. Seema Answers 50 of the Most Googled Coronavirus Questions | WIRED

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Dr. Seema Yasmin Answers Most Googled Coronavirus Questions

Wired produced this item featuring MD, Dr Seema Yasmin, who answers popular questions about coronavirus (Covid-19):

Dr Seema Yasmin is back to help answer 50 of the most popular coronavirus questions being searched right now. Do coronavirus symptoms come and go? Why is it called coronavirus? Has this virus been around before?

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Who is Dr Seema Yasmin?

Dr Seema Yasmin is professor of Medicine at Stanford University in the USA. She describes herself as “an expert in epidemics, the spread of disease, and the spread of misinformation about disease.”

The Questions

50 – Will Coronavirus Mutate?

Dr Seema clarifies that “we’re talking about the new coronavirus, it’s real name is SARS-CoV-2, and it’s part of this family of viruses, called coronaviruses”

“and yes, like every virus, this novel coronavirus does mutate.”

“even though it has mutated, it doesn’t seem to have mutated in a way that makes any meaningful difference to the way it spreads or causes disease in humans”

49 – Are Covid-19 symptoms sudden?

“It looks like with Covid-19, symptoms can be more gradual (than influenza)”

48 – Does coronavirus affect animals?

“yes, it can, and it looks like this coronavirus may have originated in a bat, gone to another animal, and then arrived in humans.”

47 – Does coronavirus kill healthy people?

“Yes, it can. And that’s why we’re making this point about social distancing. The higher death rates are in older people, and in people with pre-existing conditions and a suppressed immune system.”

46 – Can I get infected with coronavirus if I’m wearing a mask?

“Yes, but it does greatly reduce your chances of getting infected.”

“The point here though is that because we have this massive shortage of masks, we’re encouraging people not to wear them unless they really need them, meaning they have symptoms, or they are near somebody who has symptoms, because we want to conserve as many masks as possible for our first responders and healthcare workers.”

45 – When will a Covid-19 vaccine come?

“Right now we’re seeing the beginnings of phase one clinical trials, and phase one is where you’re testing it only in healthy volunteers, and a very small group of them.

“From that point, it’s then at least 18 months if not many years before you have a vaccine that both works, and can be scaled up.”

44 – Do Coronavirus Symptoms come and go?

“From the time somebody gets infected, it takes on average about five days for them to show symptoms, but it could be as early as two days, or as long as 14 days.”

“once somebody is sick, it can be anywhere from around two to six weeks that they continue to have these symptoms.”

43 – Why is it named coronavirus?

“When you look at it under an electron-microscope, you see the virus is studded with these spike proteins, and they give it the appearance of having a halo, or a crown and corona happens to be the Latin word for crown.”

42 – Did coronavirus slow down in China?

“Yes, the virus seems to have reached a peak on the epidemic curve, and then started to decline.”

41- When was coronavirus discovered?

“It was back in December, around December 26th (2019), that a Chinese physician noticed an ‘unusual pneumonia’ and then it was on January 7th (2020) that the new virus was identified.”

40 – Will coronavirus go away in the summer?

“It’s unlikely, and especialy here in the (United) States.”

39 – Will coronavirus affect the stock market?

“yes, we’ve already seen that happen.”

38 – Why is coronavirus called novel?

“Novel just means new”

37 – Has coronavirus been around before?

“That family of coronaviruses has been around for a very long time, four of them are what cause the common cold in us, but this particular oone, SARS CoV-2, is brand new.”

36 – Does coronavirus need isolation?

“When somebody has symptoms, we know they’re contagious, we want too keep them away from others, to prevent the spread of disease.”

35 – What are coronavirus symptoms?

“It causes fever, cough, shortness of breath, and it can cause very severe pneumonias and potentially even death.”

34 – Will coronavirus go away?

“Probably not totally. Look at what happened with H1N1 flu in 2009, it caused a pandemic that year, and now it’s a commonly circulating flu. It’s likely we’ll see the same thing with this novel coronavirus.”

33 – Did coronavirus come from snakes?

“It’s highly unlikely”

32 – Why did the coronavirus start in China?

“China is a county of more than 1.3 billion people. The chances of something starting there are just higher than starting in a smaller country and increasingly, all of us humans are living in closer proximity to animals, so this happened in China, but it could have happened in many places.”

31 – Can coronavirus spread through water?

“No, there’s no evidence right now, that the virus can spread through water.”

30 – Will coronavirus end the world?

“No. Let’s all take a collective, deep, breath. I know it feels like the end of the world, but it isn’t.”

29 – Is coronavirus in Mexico?

“yes, it has spread there.”

28 – Can coronavirus spread through clothes?

“Yes, it looks like the virus can survive on fabrics.”

27 – Which coronavirus is in China?

“I think this question is asking about the new coronavirus, called SARS CoV-2.”

26 – Can the coronavirus be stopped?

“Yes, it can eventually, with isolating people who are sick, practicing social distancing, while the pandemic is at it’s peak, and also developing anti-viral treatments and vaccines.”

25 – Can the coronavirus live on surfaces?

“yes, we think it can survive on surfaces, anywhere from a few hours, to a few days, but it depends on the exact type of surface, and on the environmental conditions.”

24 – Was coronavirus engineered?

“No, it wasn’t”

23 – Where is coronavirus in the US?

“It’s been detected in all 50 states.”

22 – Can coronavirus spread through food?

“Right now, there’s only evidence of this virus spreading from one person to another. There isn’t evidence of people contracting the infection from touching a contaminated surface, but that’s theoretically possible, and that could include food as well.”

21 – Can coronavirus spread through mail?

“Now that we know it can potentially survive from a few hours to a few days on a variety of surfaces, it is a possibility that mail could be contaminated.”

20 – Why is coronavirus deadly?

“It’s deadly because it attaches to receptors on the surface of our cells, in our lungs and our respiratory tract and it can cause a very severe pneumonia. That then causes a lung failure, and we can also see multi-organ dysfunction as well.”

19 – Did coronavirus come from bats?

“What we think at the moment is that this new virus came to us from bats, who infected an intermediate animal, and that animal may have infected humans.”

18 – Why is coronavirus dangerous?

“it’s dangerous because it causes a respiratory tract infection. It’s alsoo dangerous because this is the first time humans have been exposed to this virus, and it means we have no pre-existing immunity to it.”

17 – How did the novel coronavirus spread in China?

“As I mentioned, we think that this new virus originated in bats (see question 32)”

16 – Is coronavirus worse than the flu?

“I’m getting asked this question so much, I think people are wondering ‘well, flu kills tens of thousands of Americans every year, why are we so worried about this new virus?’

“Here’s why I’m worried: it looks like the death rate from the new coronavirus is at least ten times higher than the death rate from seasonal flu.”

15 – Does coronavirus go away?

“I already answered that (see question 34)”

From question 34 – “Probably not totally. Look at what happened with H1N1 flu in 2009, it caused a pandemic that year, and now it’s a commonly circulating flu. It’s likely we’ll see the same thing with this novel coronavirus.”

14 – Has coronavirus reached India?

“Yes, sadly it has, we’ve been seeing cases there reported since the end of January.”

13 – Is coronavirus a pandemic?


12 – Is coronavirus new?


As mentioned above, SARS CoV-2 is entirely new and distinct from other coronaviruses.

11 – Can coronavirus in dogs spread to humans?

“There is one case of a dog infected with this new coronavirus. It didn’t show any signs of disease and there’s no evidence of transmission from a dog to a human.”

10 – How does coronavirus work?

“The virus enters the respiratory tract through the nose, the eyes or the mouth and then it takes over our cells’ own machinery, to it’s own ends, to make more copies of the virus.”

9 – Is coronavirus man-made?

“No it is not.”

8 – Is coronavirus in the US?

“Yes it is definitely here.”

7 – Can coronavirus be treated?

“Sadly, there’s no specific anti-viral treatment just for this coronavirus, but what we do as doctors is treat the symptoms.”

6 – Is coronavirus fatal?

“yes, sadly this new coronavirus can cause death, particularly in people who are older, have a compromised immune system, or have a pre-existing health condition, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, things like that.”

5 – Is coronavirus curable?

“No we don’t have a specific treatment for this new coronavirus.”

4 – Is coronavirus airborne?

“This one is so tricky, because there is no universal definition of exactly what ‘airborne’ means.

“When a person who is infected with the new coronavirus coughs or sneezes, they disperse ‘droplets’ from their respiratory tract, and those droplets can be full of virus.

“They (the droplets) are said to travel about three to six feet. Now compare that, to somebody who has measles, and sneezes, the virus then clings to particles that hang in the air. Those are much smaller particles compared to droplets. They can travel further, and they can just stay suspended in the air for a lot longer.”

“I will say, this is a new virus. Right now, what we’re saying is that there’s a droplet transmission. We’re not calling it ‘airborne’ (unlike measles).”

3 – How did coronavirus start?

“This new coronavirus, as I’ve mentioned a few times, probably originated in bats. Went from bats to an intermediate host – to some other animal – and then from that animal to humans.”

2 – How does coronavirus spread?

“Like I just mentioned, with those droplets (question 4), what we understand is that an infected person coughs or sneezes, and those virus-laden droplets can land on another person, make their way into the person’s respiratory tract, and that’s how it spreads.

“It could also spread through inanimate surfaces, maybe an elevator button or a door handle, but that’s still being studied.

“Right now, the evidence is of person-to-person spread.”

1 – Is coronavirus deadly?

“That’s the number one question, and the answer is yes. World-wide, this new coronavirus has killed more than 6,000 people, as of March 17th 2020.”

What About New Questions?

Reach out to Dr Seema Yasmin on Instagram with any questions at:

This article was written by The Global Herald based on an original publication featured in Wired, in order to share accurate information on SARS CoV-2 with the global community. Follow Wired on YouTube here.

In This Story: Covid-19

Covid-19 is the official WHO name given to the novel coronavirus which broke out in late 2019 and began to spread in the early months of 2020.

Symptoms of coronavirus

The main symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • a persistent new cough (non productive, dry)
  • a high temperature (e.g. head feels warm to the touch)
  • shortness of breath (if this is abnormal for the individual, or increased)

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