Last updated on May 15, 2020
Welcome to the Contrarian Investor Podcast. We give voice to those who challenge the prevailing sentiment in global financial markets. This podcast is for informational purposes only. Nothing on this podcast should be taken as investment advice. Guests were not compensated for the appearance, nor do they supply payment in order to appear. Individuals on this podcast may hold positions in the securities that are discussed. Listeners are urged to educate themselves and make their own decisions. Now, here’s your host, Mr. Nathaniel a baker.
Nathaniel E. Baker 0:36
Okay. Dr. Robert Bednarz, thank you so much for joining us here. It’s my pleasure to have an actual bona fide doctor on the show. I’ve been trying to get somebody who can actually professionally legitimately speak to this coronavirus Covid-19, also known as the Chinese virus if you’re going to quote a certain president, but let’s not go there. What investors want to know, and what you may or may not be able to answer are a couple things: First of all, just how serious of a health crisis is this? And more importantly, how long will this persist? And interesting maybe could also start us with the interesting little detail that you are right now as we speak in self quarantine. Right?
Dr. Robert Bednarz 1:29
Right. Yes. So I can start with all that I can first start with the self quarantine thing, which is why I have time to do all these interviews and podcasts. So last week, as you can hear, I have a cough as well, too. But last week, I had a week off from work where I spent my time in Poland visiting my family and then on returning to Scotland I was ready to go back to work but I started developing this new continuous cough and a runny nose which aren’t the runny nose isn’t as simple Have a Corona virus but the cost is so instead of just testing me the guidelines at the time which have changed now is for just to stay home for seven days. So they told me to stay home for seven days and now I’m home and I there’s no obviously there’s no cop or somebody or some government official outside my door I can I can leave by wanting to but just for my own causes and not put anyone else at risk just in case I do have coronavirus. I am now stuck at home for the week, day and night. This is this is day six. So I’m really excited to finally go out and do some grocery shopping tomorrow. Whatever is left out there.
Nathaniel E. Baker 2:38
Yeah, and we certainly hope you get well soon and don’t develop any any serious symptoms. Okay, so then to the matter at hand here. Well, let’s have your assessment of this this whole situation
Dr. Robert Bednarz 2:49
So the answer your first question as to how serious this could be in a health crisis. As you can see in Italy, we’re taking that as an example. And it has been a really The devastating experience of what’s going on over there. And that can easily happen anywhere else. Because Italy isn’t a third world country. It’s a fairly developed country, and you know, Western Europe. And you see that now currently today being the 20th of March, because every single day, it’s changing completely. But today in the 20th of March, Italy has surpassed the amount of deaths that China has. And just today, they recorded over 600 deaths. And this this is just becoming a real big problem, because just last week, just last week, on the 14th of March, worldwide, there was only 404 deaths. And today, right now were the death polls that were at 1235 deaths from yesterday. So that’s three times the amount and these are the amount of deaths is going up at an exponential rate. And that’s what we’re really afraid of, because we’re not going to be able to cope just like Italy was with the amount of patients that are coming in We don’t have excuse, we don’t have that many respirators, which are like the mid fives, or what we use FFP threes. We don’t have enough ventilators for everybody because we’re not just only taking care of the patients who have Corona virus, but we also have regular sick people that come to the hospital with other diseases as well. So once that when the number with the amount of Corona virus patients surpasses the amount of patients we have in the hospital, it just becomes a huge problem. And just the limited resources and then the risk of the doctors getting sick as well too, and they have to go home and they have to take a week or two weeks off, and it’s just it just becomes a huge problem.
Nathaniel E. Baker 4:40
Okay, where are we now in this cycle? Based on what you’ve seen so far? And maybe you can speak to Scotland because that’s, that’s where your base but I guess the UK and the US are kind of on the same as far as the timing of it.
Dr. Robert Bednarz 4:56
More or less yes and no, just say Today, just about an hour ago, Boris just announced to close down all bars, clubs, restaurants, everything just basically just to close it down Finally, which for us, we’ve been waiting for this moment because that’s what’s been the highest risk here is all these people going out to clubs, restaurants and infecting others. And we finally needed this statement for people to finally stay at home to realize how serious this can be. In terms of the States and the UK, that’s the one main difference. Trump, about a week ago announced to close the borders, no flights going in or out. Unless you’re an American citizen, you can come in and then immediately quarantined. It’s a little bit slower in the UK than it is in the States. But it is rising fast just for Scotland. I could speak especially the death toll went from three to six yesterday. So we’re still at a low amount, but that’s it’s you know, it’s 100 percent more from yesterday to today already. And the cases are just going up and up and the hospital that I’m stationed at even though it’s University Hospital, it’s not so big to be able to isolate every single person and that’s that we know we don’t we usually have Bay’s of open areas for people to for patients to stay in. But we can’t let infected patients go into those open bays, they need to be in the private isolated rooms, and we don’t have that many. So now we’re trying, we’re moving. we’re shifting the whole organization of the hospital where now we’re trying to make one wing of the hospital considered infected and the other wing clean, just to be able to separate the patients and keep them as safe as possible so that other patients who aren’t infected they don’t get infected by the patients coming in. It’s it’s been it’s been a real struggle, but we’re so far from what I’ve seen, they’re doing a really great job trying to get this under control.
Nathaniel E. Baker 6:55
That’s good to hear. What kind of numbers are you looking at? What kind of numbers are you preparing? In terms of the population that you’re expecting to see infected, and the percentage of fatalities?
Dr. Robert Bednarz 7:06
just just looking at the numbers in my area alone, that’s what I’ve been mostly focused on. So I’m based in Tayside area. And just about four days ago, we had seven and then when I say infected in my area, these are the ones in hospital because we were only testing the ones who are unwell if somebody called in and said, Hey, I think I have some symptoms of the corona virus, what should I do we just tell them to stay home and so nicely, 14 days, there’s no reason for them to risk everyone else to come to the hospital get tested. And we don’t have these drive through testing like some places in the states do yet. So now from four days ago, is 17 in the area to 20, to 23 to now 31 in the area. So the numbers are just rising and I can’t professionally tell you how many were expecting so far yet, because now Since Boris made the statement of everything is closed, and people should be staying indoors, we’re really our hope is on the community. And it’s basically their, it’s their role, they play a huge role right now into helping us into just staying home. That that is the, that’s the biggest thing that we’re asking them is please practice social distancing. If you go out to stay, you know, stay far away from people try to keep your hands clean, whatever you touch, make sure you wash your hands afterwards to keep them clean, and just stay at home, especially if you have symptoms. Since symptoms don’t show there’s an incubation period of two weeks. So sometimes people are infected and they don’t have symptoms, and then they’re going out and they’re getting other people infected. And the again, I stress this so much that the biggest role is the community. It’s just asking them to please be alert, stay at home if you can, and just you know, wash your hands and all that.
Nathaniel E. Baker 8:53
How long do you think that needs to be in effect for?
Dr. Robert Bednarz 8:56
Oh, that’s a good question. So it It’s hard to say because of how a virus can mutate because just looking back at all other pandemics that’s happened in the world even like even from the 2000s you have the SARS pandemic, these swine flu pandemic, even MERS pandemic which is based in the Middle East. And the way that they stopped with that either people were able to self core self quarantine estate home, but the virus would mutate itself to a less dangerous version. And that just happened sporadically. We don’t know when that will happen, when that will start changing and everything or even the Spanish Flu that was another one where it killed about 3% of the population or so. And it’s just had another mutation to a less deadly version of it and that’s what we’re waiting for. And as long as the virus doesn’t have a host to stick on, then you’re you know, it’s there’s no way for it to spread anymore. So the most important thing is for people to stay home and That’s why when the virus if the person who’s infected stays home, the virus will die and not be able to find a new host. So it’s all dependent on the people. That’s that’s what it is. It doesn’t depend on, we can make up all these treatments, all that we want, you know, or even a vaccine, the vaccine might not matter because maybe the virus will mutate into something deadlier at that point, or it doesn’t. We don’t know. That’s how variable medicine can be. And this, this is why can be so dangerous. And then healthcare aspect. This is besides the whole global infrastructure of economics. I see what’s going on there. And that’s insane. But I’m not
Nathaniel E. Baker 10:36
Yeah. Yeah, no, and we have people who have talked about that. But what how realistic is it? Do you think that we could see a mutation here that that could intensify this?
Dr. Robert Bednarz 10:47
I don’t, I don’t think there’ll be a mutation though. intensify anymore. So in China, there were these two strains. I think I mentioned there was an S strain and an L strain and the L strain was the one that was a little bit more severe. But in severe in those terms, it was just basically it was able to attach the receptors in your lungs, it had a bigger affinity to the receptor. That’s the best way I could say it. But they were able to contain the L strain in China, which is really good. So now it’s just the strain, which is still bad. It has this affinity to the lungs. But the thing is, is the biggest fear is that we don’t know what could happen. So but I really, I believe that there won’t be a deadly or strain, if anything, it’s going to now mutate to a, you know, more, less aggressive strain for it for people to be able to handle it and continue on. Yeah.
Nathaniel E. Baker 11:41
What about say, come next fall? Are there concerns already, I mean, we’re gonna obviously want to deal with one crisis at a time here. But is there any type of realistic concern that this becomes a regular thing each winter, that we get something like this or another version of it?
Dr. Robert Bednarz 12:00
So based n the past pandemics we’ve had, these are all really great questions, by the way, Mr. Baker.
Nathaniel E. Baker 12:07
Dr. Robert Bednarz 12:08
But based on the past pandemics we’ve had so SARS and MERS, those are the closest one we can compare it to because SARS and MERS are Corona viruses as well. I see. Whereas swine flu and the bird, the Spanish Flu that we’ve had or h1 and one that’s the swine flu as well, that’s the influenza virus, two completely separate viruses. And that’s what we’ve had pandemics of plus the Ebola.
Nathaniel E. Baker 12:32
So you’re telling me this is literally not the flu?
Dr. Robert Bednarz 12:35
Correct. It is literally it is not the flu is completely different virus. It’s tiny, tiny differences, the structure of the virus, the type of RNA it is inside tiny, tiny differences, but they are completely different families of viruses. So again, like the last pandemic of SARS that we had was back in 2002. And MERS was in 2012. So this can come back I would say maybe in a few years, I’m not expecting this to come back. Within a year or so however, we could experience something like what happened in the Spanish flu, for example, where since once the months get warmer, this tends to die down, and it will cool down a bit within the population. But there is a possibility that if somebody still has it in their system, and it’s just kind of just isolating itself inside the host, that once the cooler months come into effect, like in the fall, that it’ll start becoming a pandemic again. Again, it’s hard to say yes, it’s, it’s really, really hard to say,
Nathaniel E. Baker 13:39
yeah, you touched on something, which is the warmer weather here in the Northern Hemisphere. Obviously, we are now officially in spring as of yesterday, I believe, March 20. Or maybe that’s today can’t get the dates completely right. But what is the what is the chances that as the weather does get warmer here in the Northern Hemisphere that it kind of helps out and puts an end to this this thing.
Dr. Robert Bednarz 14:03
It’s definitely going to be a big help. The weather does play a role as we see in the what’s funny about the corona virus. I’m going to tell you one thing that my friends mentioned back to me while we were chatting when this was getting big in China. The whole the ohana crisis back in the who Bay province. And the they messaged me and they were like, Hey, did you hear about this, this new Corona virus and I tell them that Corona virus is a new Corona virus causes the common cold. Back in med school with Corona virus and Rhino virus. Those are viruses that just causes the common cold and you would get some sniffles and a cough and that’s it and it passes by. But because this is a mutated strain, it’s it’s completely different. But still coronavirus. And back to your question. Where does the warmer months it’s just how many people do you see getting the common cold in the warmer months or getting the flu in the warmer months? It doesn’t happen. I can’t tell you exactly. Actually why that happens. It just tends that the temperature it doesn’t, it’s not able to survive in the warmer months. An easier way to put it doesn’t survive in the warmer months. And so it’ll go away. But if there is a person who has it still as a host, for some reason, and it’s still mutating for whatever reason, and it does have a possibility of coming back. Again, extremely hard to say though.
Nathaniel E. Baker 15:24
Hmm, okay, so definitely rooting for warmer weather here. Okay, going back here. So, as far as the what’s what’s your worst case scenario that you’re looking at in terms of how long? I guess the the economy needs to be shut down? And what do you think, what do you think of that?
Dr. Robert Bednarz 15:45
Oh, well, the economy is the least thing on my mind. Unfortunately. Yeah. Fair enough. Fair enough. It’s the what I’m worried about is exactly what’s going on in Italy and looking at that. That’s what’s scaring healthcare. Healthcare officials around the world that that similar situation can happen to them, whether it be in the UK in the USA, or wherever, where they’ve gotten to a point where they have to literally pick and choose who is going to live and who’s going to die with this coronavirus. Because they just don’t have enough resources. They don’t have enough ventilators. They don’t have enough doctors. And I think they just announced I don’t know how true this is because misinformation is very easy to come by nowadays to where they’re now saying that people over 80 they’re not going to treat because they just can’t. It’s a scary thing to think about where you have so many sick people, you just don’t have enough resources to help every single person because you’re literally just running out of air. You’re becoming hypoxic, you’re suffocating. Because all of the cells in your lungs are being destroyed by this virus. Again, it’s all of this is unfortunately so difficult to say and I hate it when I see people on the news, giving you exactly figures like this is going to end at this stage. This ended in 18 months and 12 months, there’s no possible way to know this, especially seeing how this exponential growth of deaths happening. Even though these types of these pandemics have happened in the past, you would think we would learn from history to be more prepared for the next one, but we just we simply, are we so many people didn’t expect for something like this to happen because they have other things to worry about, like war, or anything else that’s happening in the economic standpoint of view.
Nathaniel E. Baker 17:32
Actually, it’s interesting, interesting way that the world of finance investing in medicine actually do overlap as people don’t learn from history and each from the sound of it but so on.
Dr. Robert Bednarz 17:41
So that’s, that’s basically my point where it’s, it’s really hard to tell. And again, just all these people who give these are, for example, a vaccine that comes out, right, this this vaccine, if whoever creates a vaccine that’s going to become public, which whoever says that it’s going to come out next month. It’s not going to happen. It takes even at an expedited rate, it’ll maybe in 12 months, yeah, at least from the start to the end. And even if they do have a vaccine, it’s not good. It’s just like the flu vaccine. I don’t know how much you know of how the flu vaccine works, but the flu vaccine is a very educated guess what on what this version of the flu will be this year and they basically just take statistics of the previous ones and be like, Okay, looks like this might be the strain this year. And, and the DFT efficiency rate goes from anywhere from 20% to 85 90%. So it’s literally just a really good guess. And with this coronavirus, don’t sure they’ll make a vaccine for this one that’s happening now but in the case of mutates for whatever reason, it’s not. People are not going to have the immunity to that new one again, and that’s that’s another reason why again, a lot of people healthcare officials are so afraid because when it comes to the flu, we know the flu. We have treatment for the flu. We have antivirals we have vaccines. We’ve seen the flu over and over again. We know exactly what what to be what’s expected, whereas the corona but this coronavirus is something completely new novel. You know, that’s what not everyone thinks novel coronavirus, just a new Corona virus, it’s this new strain. We don’t have a vaccine. We don’t know the long term effects of what can happen yet because it’s so new. That’s what’s so frightening. That’s why we just want to tell people to stay at home and and be able to take care of this within the community.
Nathaniel E. Baker 19:29
Got it? You mentioned the vaccine. And we know that’s, that’s at least a year away. What about other treatments? First of all, in terms of Yeah, ways of treating and have you seen anything there? And maybe it might also be interesting for you to say, how would you treat it? What types of medicines are you using to treat it?
Dr. Robert Bednarz 19:48
Right? So another good question. So there are they’re using a whole bunch of different types of antivirals. So for example, rendez severe which is a which they use for The a bola outbreak they use that and there’s there’s there’s experts saying that this will work for this coronavirus. And they have some studies some preliminary results that it works. We also have a combination of HIV drugs. It’s good now it’s called collateral where if you give this for people who have Corona virus it works. And there was just a study that came out on the 18th of March saying it has some improvement for severe cases of this Corona virus because it’s an anti viral, and then also they’re saying how chloroquine or chloroquine however you want to call it, which is an anti malarial drug. Also using a lot of different antivirals as well, which can help as well. We’re taking information as it goes. So just like just like the, just like the public, we’re not hiding anything. I don’t want people to think we have some idea and we’re hiding it from we’re literally telling you how many deaths are are what new information we have. And if you were to go to any art like the Lancet or New England Journal of Medicine, anything about the corona is free. You can download it, read it and it’s there for everyone to use. So science communications Great right now and and in terms and now they just released how French officials the set how non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs are to not be used or not not be used but this is only for people who take it every now and then if they get like if they get a fever and they take an ibuprofen instead of an A paracetamol, for example, tried to switch to a paracetamol but for people who have rheumatoid arthritis where they take the proxxon every single day I that’s some that’s something you need to call your doctor and ask to pay for me to switch and stop or is they need in the box in to take care of their own toy, right is it’s it’s all very it depends.
Nathaniel E. Baker 21:44
What about the testing? How do you have enough testing? I guess facilities there in the UK? And what kind of technologies are you making use of player
Dr. Robert Bednarz 21:55
so in terms of testing, it’s just a swab the throat So okay, something called Art PCR it’s a it’s just a special machine that takes it takes about 48 hours to get results to let you know if you’re positive or negative. The amount of testing. I don’t know, since I’m just a junior doctor, I don’t know the specifics of it. But the I know that it’s becoming an issue because they’re not testing stuff here, as of now, and if they’re not testing stuff that that kind of makes me concerned of how many tests we do have to test the public as well.
Nathaniel E. Baker 22:28
Why is there a limit on this? If it’s just a machine and you just have running out of cotton swabs or what’s, what’s the holdup?
Dr. Robert Bednarz 22:35
I honestly, I wish I could tell you I’m not entirely sure why there’s a limit to these things. Were people saying we’re running out I don’t know if it’s a cost thing. I as you know, in the UK and most other countries in in Europe, that healthcare is free, right. It’s paid by the person taxes and that could be a whole budget thing thing. Maybe it’s a political standpoint. I’m not entirely sure.
Nathaniel E. Baker 22:57
Okay, interesting. Um, the other thing thing I want. The other thing I wanted to ask you is about as far as these it’s interesting. The some of the cultural stuff I was living in Hong Kong for a couple years and and in Asia, these surgical masks are ubiquitous, not even when there’s an outbreak just in general. And here in New York, I’ve seen very few of them, even now, how useful are those?
Dr. Robert Bednarz 23:23
another great question. masks. People shouldn’t panic by and go out and buy all the masks that there are there out there. So in the US, they have been called N-95s. So that’s the most common mass to prevent nanoparticles going into into the person’s mouth. Whereas here in Europe, we call them FFP threes, or FFP twos, the number depends on how efficient it is protecting yourself from that particles. And then you have your surgical masks, surgical masks, it’s more for the doctor. It’s protecting the patients so that for example during a during a procedure, we don’t accidentally spit into whatever procedure that we’re doing. It’s not the other way around. If people are trying to protect themselves from others who are infected, those surgical masks are not. They’re not really working. Right. It is good. If you think you’re sick, and for some reason you can’t self quarantine, you have to go out for some reason, then that’s better than not right.
Nathaniel E. Baker 24:20
Right. Right. Right. Okay. But that’s good.
Dr. Robert Bednarz 24:21
And then in terms of these N-95s I just wanted to point out I see I’ve seen there’s a lot of misinformation going out and I’m not want to comment on like things that I see online to to argue for the sake of arguing, but when it comes to a person’s health, it does bother me so much. And there’s some people I saw selling surgical masks. Yeah, but but naming them as a N-95s. Which is totally wrong. It’s not the surgical mask, they’re just you know, they don’t they don’t have a seal around your face. They don’t work. You don’t work the same as 95. Just be careful with the misinformation that’s out there. But for a healthy person, I don’t know. expecting to get any kind of masks is being alert, just being careful being hygienic. And that that’s more than enough.
Nathaniel E. Baker 25:08
Cool. Dr. Bednarz, thank you so much for joining us in closing, maybe, how might might people find out more about you if they wanted to get in touch possibly, or read up on your stuff to the extent that you have any?
Dr. Robert Bednarz 25:21
Yeah, absolutely. So if anybody wants to ask me a question about this whole cobit thing, or if they want to ask just simple questions of health wise, how does it affect somebody and stuff like that? I’m more than happy to try and answer them for you. For them, they can email me at the patient we’ll see you email@example.com or they can find me on Twitter at at Robert underscore Bednarz and they can message me on there as well.
Nathaniel E. Baker 25:45
Right so Robert, our ob RT obviously underscore and then Bednarz is spelled p, d, n, a, our z, or Zed as you say, and you’re a part of the world or the part of the world you currently find yourself in. Okay, honest. Great. Well, that was wonderful. Thank you so much for joining us. And yeah, we look forward to speaking to you all again next time.
Dr. Robert Bednarz 26:07
Perfect. Thank you so much for having me.
Nathaniel E. Baker 26:08
All right. Thanks, Rob.
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