Like many anxious people around the world, Golden State Warriors guard Steph Curry is seeking as much information as he can about the COVID-19 pandemic. On Thursday, Curry hosted an Instagram live question-and-answer session with one of the world's leading coronavirus experts, Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said what the world is dealing with is largely unprecedented, citing the mortality rate of the coronavirus as 10 times higher than for the typical influenza virus.
Today in the U.S., there are almost 84,000 people who have been infected with coronavirus and more than 1,200 deaths associated with the disease.
And the numbers are climbing.
"It's really different in its degree of seriousness," Fauci said. Despite being reasonably benign in whom it targets, he said, the virus is heavily weighted toward infecting the elderly and people with underlying conditions. Those are the most vulnerable.
Repeating advice he has been giving for weeks, Fauci said people must practice social distancing to mitigate infection rates and not overwhelm hospitals. "This is serious business. We are not overreacting," he said. "We have a responsibility to protect the vulnerable ones."
Two tests are available: one that determines whether patients are currently infected and another that detects whether patients were infected but have recovered. "It's an antibody test. It's much easier. It's much cheaper," Fauci said of the second test. "You can determine how many people got infected and recovered — that's very important information that we need to get."
When Curry asked what the future will look like, Fauci said it could take, at best, a year to a year and a half before a vaccine is widely distributed. Any return to normalcy would begin when "the trajectory of the curve" starts to go down, Fauci said, referring to the rate of infection and how critical it is to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Participants in Thursday's virtual town hall either submitted questions beforehand using #WheSCASKSFAUCI on Twitter or sent questions directly into the 40-minute Instagram livestream, which averaged close to 50,000 viewers.
Earlier this month, Curry, a six-time All-Star, three-time league champion and two-time Most Valuable Player, missed two games because of flu-like symptoms. Since recovering, Curry has become active in fighting the spread of the coronavirus, donating $1 million to workers at the Chase Center in San Francisco, where the Warriors play, along with the team and its owners.
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He and his wife, Ayesha Curry, have also donated a million meals to the Alameda County Food Bank for Oakland students who can't attend school because of school closings.
"We're going through a period of time now where we need to pull together," Fauci told Curry. "Don't get frightened. Don't get intimidated. Use the energy to be able to confront it and do the things that will put an end to it."