Coronavirus: our policy and outlook

Much has been written about the new coronavirus already, which we do not need to repeat here.

Needless to say that Biosphere Expeditions is taking the situation very seriously. We are constantly monitoring it and what it may mean for expeditions, our staff, partners and citizen scientists. At the moment all expeditions are scheduled to run as planned, including the next one to the Azores starting in April. But please keep referring to this blog for updates.

However, we also believe there is a strong need for some sensible, fact-based context to combat the fake news and hysteria that appear to be prevalent in the media (social, online and traditional) at the moment.

To put the outbreak into perspective, and without belittling the impact it is having, please consider the data below and how much coverage the diseases below, which are not related to the coronavirus, are getting in the media in comparison to the coverage the coronavirus is getting at the moment.

Coronavirus data at the time of writing (from Johns Hopkins CSSE website)

Coronavirus outbreak at the time of writing (4 March 2020)
94,250 persons infected
51,026 persons recovered
3,214 deaths

Measles outbreak 2015 (WHO data)
20 million persons infected
73,400 deaths

Influenza season 2018/19 (CDC data)
900,000 hospitalisations (USA only)
80,000 deaths (USA only)

HIV (UNAIDS data 2019)
1.7 million persons newly infected in 2018
38 million persons infected worldwide
770,000 deaths in total worldwide

Tubercolosis (WHO data)
1.5 million deaths in 2018

Malaria (WHO data)
300 – 700 million new infections per year (estimate)
1 – 2 million deaths per year (estimate)

Also, fatality as a result of Covid-19 (the disease caused by the coronavirus) seems to be strongly skewed towards older people with pre-existing ailments, especially those of the respiratory system.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has useful advice on protective measures against the coronavirus. There are also useful worldwide trackers of cases and recoveries by  Johns Hopkins CSSE and Worldometer.

And finally, yes, Covid-19 is serious, but context is key and the world is well placed to deal with the  situation.

Having said all this, we will continue to monitor the situation and keep everyone updated via this blog.


Dr. Matthias Hammer
Executive Director
Biosphere Expeditions

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