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Expert opinion

Prof Jimmy Whitworth
What is the current situation? (26 March 2020) We are now three months into the current outbreak, which started in December 2019 in Wuhan, China and has since spread rapidly across the world.
1. TEDMED: Let’s start with the basics. What is a virus? A virus is a very tiny particle of RNA or DNA genetic code protected by an outer protein wrapper.  2. TEDMED: How common are viruses? Viruses are everywhere. It’s amazing to realize that if you add them all up, all the viruses in the world weigh more than all the living matter in the world – including all of the plants, animals and bacteria. 10% of the human genome is derived from virus DNA. The Earth truly is a “virus planet!” 
Edmond Ng
Chinese restaurants are losing business in Australia. France faces 'epidemic' of anti-Asian racism. #ChineseDon'tComeToJapan trending on Twitter. Widespread stigmatization against Chinese and East Asian diaspora has been reported in many countries since the outbreak of COVID-19 began. Sadly, London is no different. From the physical to the verbal, abuse towards these communities is on the rise in the capital.
We have been trying to keep up with the novel coronavirus ever since. Each day, we are faced with worrying headlines reporting the latest twists and turns of this outbreak. We have seen the virus spill over China’s borders and spread to at least 25 countries worldwide, and watched with mounting anxiety as the number of cases creeps ever higher. We wait apprehensively to see where the virus shows up next.
The evidence of the harm that a warming planet will do to our health is mounting. Heat waves will trigger an increase in deaths, particularly among the elderly and vulnerable. Mosquitoes that can spread diseases such as Zika and dengue will colonise new areas of the world and crops will fail with rising temperatures and changing rainfall patterns.
This has led to serious concern that the recent gains achieved by bed nets may only be short-lived, and that resistant mosquitoes will drive malaria deaths back up to the pre-bed net era - when nearly a million people were dying each year. New methods for killing mosquitoes are desperately needed.
Globally, around a third of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence from an intimate partner. There are many negative impacts for women and their families, including poor physical health, mental health problems, such as depression, post-traumatic distress, suicide, and alcohol and drug abuse.
India, once referred to as the ‘open defecation capital of the world’, is celebrating the fact that in five short years over 100 million toilets have been built and sanitation coverage has gone from only 40% to almost 100% in rural areas. What are the secrets of this extraordinary sanitary success story?
Although not a new concept in quantitative infectious disease research, outbreak forecasting has yet to be fully integrated into formal policy and decision-making processes in many parts of the globe. One reason for this is the mismatch between the forecasting goals set out by researchers and those considered useful by policy and decision-makers.
Current treatments are able to cure hepatitis C at a relatively low cost to the NHS. This provides a great opportunity to find and treat those currently infected, curing the infection before the onset of liver failure or liver cancer. Testing is currently offered to those who are identified as being at high risk of infection. However, the way in which testing is provided needs to change in order to increase the number of people diagnosed and receiving treatment. Testing needs to be expanded to reach more people that it currently does.