An Expert Answers the 50 Most Googled Coronavirus Questions

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to whip around the world, killing thousands of people and overloading hospitals, you’ve probably turned to Google to answer your questions.

But you can’t trust everything you find on the internet, so we got Dr. Seema Yasmin, director of the Stanford Health Communication Initiative, to answer the week’s 50 most Googled coronavirus questions. She walks us through where this novel coronavirus came from, and why it’s called “novel” and a “coronavirus.” Also, don’t expect it to go away over the summer, like a seasonal flu might.

More bad news: It’s dangerous because it causes respiratory infections, particularly in the elderly for those with previous similar conditions. “It’s also dangerous because this is the first time humans have been exposed to this virus, and it means we have no preexisting immunity to it,” Yasmin says.

Read all of our coronavirus coverage here.

A trickier question: Is this novel coronavirus an airborne pathogen? While there’s still much scientists need to learn about this how this virus travels, early indications are that it is transmitted between people in coughed-up droplets, as far as six feet from the infected person. “Compare that to somebody who has measles and sneezes, the virus then clings to particles that hang in the air,” says Yasmin. “Those are much smaller particles compared to droplets. They can travel farther and they can just stay suspended in the air for a lot longer.”

And perhaps the biggest coronavirus question of all: Will it end the world?

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

To learn more about everything you’ve Googled, or have been afraid to Google, about the coronavirus, check out our video with Yasmin above.


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