‘Viral tornado’: doctor’s coronavirus warning for Qld
A BRISBANE-BASED intensive care doctor has labelled the coronavirus as a "viral tornado", warning the disease could have unparalleled impacts on Queensland and Australia.
Professor John Fraser, who is the director of ICU at St Andrews Hospital in Springhill Brisbane, told The Sunday-Mail the number of patients who become critically unwell "could well overwhelm" the health system in Australia.
"It remains unclear in which direction and at what time this tornado will hit Australian land in full - but it seems likely it will land with the force of a Category 5," he said.
"Our job is to try to predict how best to treat the patients based on other countries' experiences.
"Similarly, we need to know how to use our available ICU beds and ventilators etc."
Dr Fraser, who is also the president of the Asia Pacific region of artificial heart lung support, organised a global group of doctors and scientists to design a tool that could collect data about the sickest patients from across the world.
The professor said the collated data was being gathered in real time from 22 countries in 4 continents and was the equivalent of an early warning system that would advise doctors and planners both within and outside Queensland Health.
"Using sophisticated Artificial Intelligence these data can be analysed and the predictions made will be shared with all centres to allow them to plan and create decision support for doctors and planning in the hospitals," he said.
"Just like in a tornado - the earlier we can advise, the more lives we can save.
"Together, the global ICU community are trying to prepare for the worst while hoping for the best.
"It is amazing how well these disparate groups are working together, even after long shifts in the ICU, doctors and scientists across the world are sleeping at their computers, putting the data in, driven by one common cause - to hit this potential pandemic on the head.
"Together, and working with experts and colleagues in the fields of Infectious Disease and Artificial Intelligence, we hope to advance our understanding of this new disease and inform clinicians and policy makers of the best clinical way forward."
Dr Fraser, who has been working 100 hours each week, said more statisticians and experts were needed to help predict what this "tornado" could potentially do next.
"It is very hard to know exactly what will happen because this is a brand new virus we have never seen before," he said.
"We're all trying our best to do the right thing.
"The more we learn the more we can advise internationally what might be the best way forward.
"It's great to see Queensland leading this international fight.
"But we do need resources because this is too important for us to fail."