Letter from abroad：Care and support from U.S. dermatologists to all Colleagues throughout China in China's fight against new coronavirus epidemic
编者按：2月10日，正值新型冠状病毒疫情高发之时，美国梅奥诊所Michael J. White医生致信熟稔的山东省皮肤病性病防治研究所张福仁所长、南方医科大学皮肤病医院杨斌院长，并希望通过两位转达对中国皮肤科同行的问候、鼓励和支持，同时对我国政府和人民抗疫的努力和贡献给予了高度评价。信中写到：“这不是一种中国病毒。这仅仅是“人畜共患病”--从动物传播到人的另一个例证”“没有一种感染是中国病、西班牙病，或美国病。病毒是我们共同的敌人，我们的另一个敌人是恐惧和非理性的反应。让我们一如既往地相互支持、攻坚克难、为夺取全世界抗疫的胜利而奋斗！”“我谨代表国际同行向我的中国同事所做出的‘抗疫’贡献表示感谢！”。张福仁教授已将邮件译成中文（原文附后）发布在中国麻风皮肤病杂志微信公众号，为飨同行，本刊官网及公众号同时予以发布，让我们坚定信心，凝聚共识，早日战胜新冠肺炎疫情！
W1390 County Road AE Mindoro
Michael J. White, MD
County Road AE
Furen Zhang, M.D., Ph.D.
Director, Shandong Provincial Institute of Dermatology and Venereology
Shandong Academy of Medical Sciences
Bin Yang, M.D., Ph.D.
Director of Dermatology Hospital of Southern Medical University
Guangdong Provincial Dermatology Hospital
No.2 Lujing Rd, Guangzhou 510091, China
and My Colleagues throughout China
Dear Dr. Zhang and Dr. Yang,
I am writing to express my sympathies and support for all of you who are coping with the impact of COVID-2019, throughout China. I also want to provide the perspective of American physician, as I read the articles in the newspapers, from the internet, and study the medical and science journal articles, which are quickly becoming available.
COVID-19 is an unpleasant surprise for the world. No doctors, no government officials, and no citizens were expecting or prepared for the virus to burst upon the world, in the last two months. In the short time span since the first few patients became ill, the number of infections has grown to over 40,000 persons, all but a few in China. Now, the entire world is aware of the virus and efforts to contain the disease are under way in many countries of the world.
The news is full of regulations in place to prevent Chinese citizens from bringing the virus to our country and other countries around the world. Many people are discussing the potential for a global pandemic, and the effect of the virus on the Chinese economy, upon trade and even the global economy.
Please allow me to share another perspective, a personal one and a perspective intended to acknowledge the burden now carried by the brave people of China.
This isn’t a Chinese virus. It’s just another example of a “zooinosis” – or an infection that can be transmitted from animals to people. Ebola virus is a zooinosis, as is Lassa Fever, Marburg virus, and Zika virus. There are many others. This particular jump from animals to people happened in a city with much air traffic to every part of the world, during a period when a great many people were holding meetings and traveling to every corner of the world, the Chinese New Year. The lesson from history that concerns so many public health doctors is the 1918-1920 “Spanish flu” influenza epidemic. That illness seemed to start in Europe, but was seen in every corner of the world, over about a 3 year period. It happened slowly, because there was no air travel, but it killed tens of millions of persons around the world.
COVID-19 has spread within China, in a matter of weeks. There is great fear that COVID-19 will create a pandemic worse than the great influenza pandemic. That fear is echoed in many news articles, in statements from many government and political leaders, and in public health advisory statements. Concern is appropriate, but we should not be ruled by fear.
The news here focuses on efforts to contain the epidemic. It paints a picture of many governments deciding to prevent the Chinese people from entering other countries, of trying to close the borders between China and the rest of the world. We should acknowledge the apparent benefit of doing this. Cases outside of China are increasing, but much slower than in China. What those statements often miss are the extraordinary coordinated efforts within China to treat those already infected, to identify patients with early infection, to limit further transmission of the virus, and study the virus as quickly as possible.
Chinese workers built two emergency hospitals, in a matter of weeks. A “lock down” of a major city of over 11 million citizens was put in place. Hundreds or thousands of doctors and nurses, and other personnel, have mobilized to travel to Hubei province and assist those persons coping with a massive epidemic. Despite all of the efforts, life carries on. There are still millions of people who need to be fed. Power stations and water supplies need to be maintained. Newspapers, radio and television news are important, to keep the citizens informed. Babies are being born. Children still need to attend school, often by internet. Sanitation needs to be maintained. Supplies need to be transported.
There was a British message from the Queen to the people of England, during World War II: “Keep Calm and Carry On.”
From a distance, it appears to me that the citizens of China are collectively working to maintain calm, to control fear, to do what needs to be done to maintain a functioning society, while simultaneously mobilizing every possible resource to control this disease. Chinese society is carrying on.
I have been privileged to visit China as a guest speaker for two medical meetings. I can picture in my mind the places and people I have visited. I feel a great concern for the people of these cities, and for all of my friends and colleagues. For me, this epidemic is personal.
The Chinese people are on the front lines of the struggle with this disease. It is Chinese citizens who have been dying. It is Chinese doctors and nurses who have collected the samples that allowed identification of the virus, and have given us the tools to better control the epidemic and to start to study treatments. It is the Chinese economy which is suffering the immediate effects of this virus.
Some persons have faulted Chinese officials for not providing enough information “quickly enough”. I submit that all of the progress that has been made around the world is possible only because of the efforts of Chinese doctors and scientists, who collected and distributed the samples and the data, even as the epidemic was happening in front of their eyes. The world medical community, but especially the Chinese Center for Disease Control and its community partners throughout China, should all be commended for how rapidly this progress has been made.
I want to thank my colleagues in China for the work they are doing on the behalf of the rest of the world. You cannot escape the epidemic. You cannot close the doors to your society. The “dragon is within the gates” already.
I want to acknowledge how much is owed to you by the rest of the world, because of your efforts. Many of us realize this, even if it is not frequently stated in the news articles. We must realize that no infection is a Chinese disease, or a Spanish disease, or an African disease. The virus is the primary enemy. The second enemy is fear and irrational response. Let us continue to support one another as we all struggle to solve this problem and defeat the potential threat to the entire world.
Again, I thank you.
Michael J. White, M.D.
现为美国维斯康辛州梅奥诊所皮肤科主任，曾任美国莱特州立大学医学院皮肤科主任。迈克尔 J.华特医生在长期从事医学工作的同时，关心时事，对华友好，2016-2017年曾担任威斯康星州绿党联合主席，2006、2015年曾两次来华学术交流。迈克尔 J.华特医生希望通过两位医生转达他对中国同行和人民的问候和支持。新冠肺炎爆发以来多次来函、深表关切。