Dr. Dean Blumberg Interview Highlights
As the number of people who get tested for coronavirus increase in the United States, doctors like Dean Blumberg expect a surge in positive cases over the next week or two.
“The number of cases is really the tip of the iceberg, because with the limited testing that's been occurring, only the most severe cases are being tested,” said Blumberg, a UC Davis pediatric infectious disease specialist.
With Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Thursday announcement that 24 million Californians will be eligible for free testing soon, Blumberg says more cases will show up as positive because many aren’t being recognized. He says that will change as more hospitals and university labs begin testing on site.
But he notes that other countries have a better idea of what is going on with their populations. He compares the nation’s 600 people tested at the beginning of last week to the number of people tested in South Korea at the same time.
“They were testing 10,000 people every day, and by the end of the week, they were testing 20,000 people a day,” said Blumberg. “So, they have a much better idea of what's going on in their communities compared to in this country.”
Dr. Blumberg joined Insight’s Beth Ruyak Tuesday to talk about coronavirus cases in the region and how he says children are dealing with it. Here are some of the highlights.
How many people with COVID-19 has the UC Davis Med Center treated?
“We've treated three patients with COVID-19. Two of them were treated and have been discharged and have gone home and are now quarantined at home. The third patient is improving . . . the third patient is the one that's been transferred from Solano County and we hope that they will be able to go home to Solano County soon.”
Are you aware of any children with COVID-19?
“We have not diagnosed any children with COVID-19. The vast majority of the cases, the symptomatic and severe cases have been in adults, the children worldwide have reported to be only about 2% of the total cases. And in almost all those cases, it's been a very mild illness. So in the U.S., there's been very little testing of children.”
What do you make of this curiosity that children can get infected by the coronavirus but don't seem to get the serious disease?
“Right, so they're either mildly infected or have asymptomatic infection, and this is a bit of a biologic mystery, but we've seen this also with other infections. For example, with hepatitis A most children, the younger children are completely asymptomatic or have very mild symptoms. The same happens with a disease such as mononucleosis that can be very mild in children. So you get all sorts of different things with different infections and with this one, it appears to be very mild in children and whether that's because of their immune system or their previous exposures. That's really just not known.”
Do you have a sense of immunity after exposure, self quarantine and recovery?
“We're just learning about that, we would expect this with any infection like this, that once you've had it that you should be immune. But there are some reports, mostly from China, that suggest the virus has been detected after people have recovered, and whether that's just continued detection without them being infectious or whether they're getting reinfected, which is a possibility. We don't know that either.”
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.