Workers’ Compensation

Ca. Workers' Comp. Quarterly Vol. 34, No. 2, 2021

Medical-Legal Challenges for COVID-19 Cases

Nachman Brautbar, M.D.

Los Angeles, California

Over the last 18 months, California, the nation, and the world have been fighting a voracious serial killer: coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). COVID-19 is a viral infection that is caused by the coronavirus severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2), which produces a flu-like respiratory illness.

Some suspect the outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 originated in November 2019 in a laboratory in Wuhan, China and escaped by accident. Many scientists believe SARS-CoV-2 originated in horseshoe bats mutating to infect some yet-to-be-identified mammal and then mutating again to infect humans. Regardless of whether the origins of the COVID-19 virus are zoonotic, a scientific experiment gone awry, or a human-engineered project, the world was stunned by the virus’s lighting-fast rise in infection rate and resulting mortality. By July 2021, the global case rate had reached 190 million and deaths were at 4.1 million. While SARS-CoV-1 caused an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2002, leading to the 2003 pandemic, it was quickly contained. With only 8,098 cases reported globally, 774 resulted in death; the case fatality rate of SARS-CoV-1 was 9.6 percent.

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