Articles, Blog

Should the corona virus scare us? – Pascal Coppens

February 27, 2020


should we be scared of the corona virus
outbreak? maybe there’s something coming from
China we should be much more scared about last week, I gave a keynote in
Belgium to about 100 people and I asked a very, very simple question
the question was: who here in the audience would be willing, would be okay,
would be comfortable to fly to Shanghai tomorrow assuming you have business opportunity there who would do that?
who would dare to take that plane? out of more than a hundred people
just one person raised their hands everybody else was scared.
it kind of surprised me but I understand why but if we look at it and put it in perspective
there’s no reason to be that scared of course it’s a virus and we don’t know about it yet.
but if we really look at the numbers if we look at Shanghai,
there’s 24 million people living in that city only 333 people so far got infected by the corona virus
and only one person died that’s a mortality rate of 0.3%
very similar to the normal flu now if we look at Belgium and we look at the amount of infected people from the normal flu every year in a country of 11 million people
it’s half a million people that’s a lot!
that’s 10, 100, 1000 times more actually out of that, the mortality rate is exactly the same,
but a thousand people. it’s a thousand compared to one
so why are we so scared? it’s more scary to visit a retirement home in Belgium
or a doctor or a hospital so what is it?
well actually it’s probably of the images we see we see images of city being quarantined
we see hospitals full of people we see in hospital being built in ten days
I mean we’re scared of all that because these are things that we’re not used to,
but this has to do with scale and if you understand the scale of China
you shouldn’t be scared about the virus you should be scared about the scale
but that is something for China it’s quite normal now take the hospitals;
when you visit a public hospital in China, any day even before the outbreak of the corona virus; what you see is lots of people lining up outside from 3 a.m. they’re already waiting outdoors
to be the first one in the hospital as soon as the doors open
all these people rush in to go to the reception desk just be the first
ones to see a doctor a doctor in China sees 200 patients per day 200 patients per day is 10 times more than the number of patients our doctor sees in Belgium and that is the real issue you have 5 minutes per patient
5 minutes to understand the symptoms, give a diagnose and give a prescription and then it’s the next
it’s like a factory and so in China a public hospital and the doctor is treating patients at this pace and at this speed, that it’s very hard to
take time for patients and that is the real problem of scale now today there’s the corona virus, so there’s hundreds of people more every day going to these hospitals so instead of 200, they maybe have 500 or 1000 people to treat every day and there’s not enough beds
that is the real problem the problem of China is really
the scale of the number of people and now they’re all quarantined and have to look for that same doctor it’s a big issue
it’s nothing to do with the virus it has to do with the scale of China and the lack of doctors in general in China and on top of that when you visit a doctor,
and I did that many many times and every time I visited a doctor in a public hospital, basically the doors were never closed there’s just too many people in the
corridors so people don’t care the doctor doesn’t care to close the door so in general, you have usually if you ask a doctor some advice you get three or four Chinese behind you cheering for you that everything will be okay it’s hilarious!
but reality is that just too many people and so there’s no privacy in hospitals in China
because of the number of people in this situation you tell you’re more intimate things to a doctor with people around you you get used to it
that’s the problem this doctor sees 20,000 patients a year, 200 per day. so there’s no chance whatsoever that you know this doctor so you can’t really trust this doctor the only thing you can trust is his degrees
and maybe experience or age but not the person
you don’t know him so if you ask a Chinese, any Chinese,
any patient going to a hospital would you trust this doctor more or less than for example a technology like IBM Watson an artificial intelligence machine, an AI machine, that can give you a diagnosis from billions of data points then every Chinese will choose the technology
more than the doctor Chinese trust technology that is
proven much more than a doctor they don’t know and that is a real scary thing about China we should not be scared of the coronavirus so much
but what we should really be scared of is how the Chinese adopt this technology,
trust this technology, and innovate and that will come to the West too
and that should be a wake-up call for us all because if Chinese, and when Chinese technology breaks out just like the virus does over the world that will be much more scary for us all

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