“It is 3:45 am in a New York based hospital and I’m doing my rounds on the COVID19 unit. I had entered the room to see an elderly patient with a nurse and when she was about to administer medications, he looked up at me and said, ‘Wasn’t I supposed to die yesterday?’ Such is the pandemic taking a severe toll on elderly patients, with mortality rates in excess of 20%. Unfortunately, this is a common presentation that I see every day being in the front lines.” –-Dr. Fernando
Dr. Rajeev Fernando is a world-renown infectious disease specialist, formerly touring the world while serving as a member of Doctors Without Borders in Sudan. A lead physician in one of New York’s top hospitals, he is also employed by and writes protocol for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in New York.
As a filmmaker and humanitarian, Dr. Rajeev leads numerous non-profit charities, and serves as producer and host on as series of critically acclaimed documentary films that have brought him around the world to educate the public on global health and safety, with his primary focus concerning infectious diseases, and human trafficking.
The following is an interview with Dr. Fernando, exclusively for The Hollywood Sentinel:
Hollywood Sentinel: We have heard about media stating that this virus could infect half or more of all Americans, be with us for years, and leave million’s dead. Is this true or not?
Dr. Fernando: These numbers of millions are not factoring in all the shutdowns that are happening right now. I think it’s important not to project these sorts of numbers at a time like this. We’re still on the upswing. We are going to see a lot more cases. We haven’t reached our peak yet. To come out and say there are going to be these many million cases out of a population of around 350 million, I think is a bit far-reached right now.
Hollywood Sentinel: China’s cases are reportedly declining. If that is true, and the fact that they essentially instituted marshal law and forced people in their homes which theoretically contributed to that, and given that this quarantining cannot happen here in the U.S. with more freedom in a democracy, is that data even correlative to us?
Dr. Fernando: As much as a human rights violation that that probably was, it did probably contribute to slowing the spread. But let’s be clear here—China got off to a very bad start. They were essentially falsifying information. And when I went there, they were covering up information, and not really allowing the world to see what was going on.
Hollywood Sentinel: Will this disease eventually just run its course and die off or not?
Dr. Fernando: As more people get infected, they become immune to it. And let’s say a community with 10 people, 6 or 7 people have gotten infected, the community develops something called herd immunity. And with 7 out of 10 people infected, they provide herd immunity, thereby rendering the virus less active. And another thing, we assume that a vaccine will be around in about a year. That would be my hope for this type of virus. This virus is what we call endemic. It will be around. But with these two factors, the number of cases will significantly go down.
Hollywood Sentinel: That’s good to hear. Now what’s the potential of re-infection; of a person getting the virus, and having little or no infection or being relatively OK, and then getting it again?
Dr. Fernando: So, we have a strain that’s going on right now, and the longer the strain is able to circulate in society, it’s going into what is called a mutation. And a mutation—even a tiny can alter a virus’s pathogenicity*. And certain viruses—if you get it once, you recover. But the family of coronaviruses, if you get it once, it doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t get infected again. And that’s a little to early to say where it’s going at this point. The United States is going through its first round of infections at this point. (*The process of causing disease).
Hollywood Sentinel: Right now, the media is talking about two weeks for the shutdowns of businesses that we have all experienced. What is it that you are hearing on that?
Dr. Fernando: Oh, this is definitely going well into April. We won’t have reached our peak in 2 weeks. The cases are going to keep going up. So, it’s going to be hard to pull the plug on this. It really depends on how strict and compliant we are with social distancing.
Hollywood Sentinel: How is the peak even able to be determined with social distancing, with society barely even able to be functioning?
Dr. Fernando: That’s a good question, so with 85% of the cases, most of those people will just have a little to no systems, and a little cough, or a little sniffle, and most of those people will get better on their own. But what this really does, is it prevents people infecting others. We may have thousands of sub-clinical* infections. (*not severe enough symptoms to produce discernable data)
Hollywood Sentinel: So how can the peak be determined if we are flattening the curve now? It seems we won’t know until people are allowed to get out and have normal function.
Dr. Fernando: Flattening the curve will underwhelm the medical system. I will tell you right now, there is a shortage of supplies. There is a shortage of respirators and ventilators. We should have been better prepared. There is no point in criticism right now, we have to move on. That is the most important thing is to help the health care workers. Because once they are lost, it’s going to be a big, big problem. We need you the public to follow the social distancing guidelines and wash your hands regularly and do what your health and public officials are telling you to do. We will get through this.
For press, media requests of Dr. Fernando, contact tel: 310-226-7176.
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