Will the new coronavirus evolve into a global pandemic?


The new corona occurred in China, Wuhan virus infection by, has spread to China other than the five countries, including Japan and the United States. Already at least 17 people have died, and the number of cases of infection is increasing rapidly. Will the virus’s infection evolve into a global pandemic? Read from expert analysis and data.

An outbreak that began in mid-December 19 as a mysterious respiratory illness outbreak in China has killed at least 17 people and confirmed the transmission of many people so far. The new corona virus is spread the infection to other than China of the five countries, including the United States.

U.S. health officials confirmed the first case of the new coronavirus infection in the United States on January 21. A man in Washington last week was hospitalized in a Seattle suburban hospital for symptoms like pneumonia. The man was reportedly visiting Wuhan, where the virus had allegedly started transmitting. However, he explained that he did not visit the seafood market, which is believed to be the source.

Isn’t it a pandemic?

Evidence is accumulating that the virus in question is capable of transmitting humans from person to person, but this case adds to the evidence. Last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that such infections could occur.

Human-to-human transmission seems almost certain, according to newly released data. Chinese authorities have announced a sharp increase in the number of confirmed cases on January 20 . With an increase from dozens to almost 300, there are even more people in the U.S. that have not been involved in the Wuhan market. And by the 21st, this number had increased to 440.

WHO will decide on January 22 (US time) whether to declare the pandemic an international public health emergency. Was forfeited]. The question WHO cares about is, “How bad can this situation really be?”

If you ask yourself the same thing now, you will be relieved to know that it will probably not be as bad as a pandemic.

“Influenza is the only known pathogen that can cause a pandemic,” says Mike Osterholm, director of the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP). He said the coronavirus has little potential to cause a pandemic. At best, it’s all about triggering multiple geographically localized pandemics.

The information leading to the answer has just started to appear

However, the question of how widespread and potentially fatal such pandemics are is still to be answered. And unfortunately, the essential information needed to derive the answer, the key to understanding what the virus named “2019-nCoV” will cause next, is only slowly leaking out.

Will it spread so wildly, like viruses like “relatives” that caused fatal SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome)? Or will they hide in animals that carry pathogens like the virus that causes MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) and fly out periodically, killing dozens of people each year?

Scientists who have analyzed the DNA of the virus extracted from human patients say it is too early to say for sure.

Trevor Bedford, an infectious disease biologist at the University of Washington and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, has built open source software to track emerging diseases using genetic data . The study found that when entering 15 viral genomes published by Chinese and Thai health authorities, few mutations were found between the viruses. The virus in each patient was isolated from a common ancestor in November 2019.

“Two Scenarios” Revealed

That probably means one of two things: The virus is spreading rapidly among Wuhan animals and has repeatedly switched to humans. Or, after animals have infected humans one or two times, they are now rapidly spreading among humans.

“We can’t tell from DNA what the two scenarios are,” Bedford says. “We only know epidemiological data or DNA from pathogen-bearing animals.”

Technology has advanced significantly since SARS killed about 800 people in 2003. But figuring out how new diseases are spread still depends on conducting epidemiological studies that go to the scene. All you have to do is check new cases, interview patients, find out who they are, and observe them all.

Only then can cases be plotted over time to understand the status and extent of the epidemic. At the moment there is no such information. “I don’t even know how long the incubation period is or how deadly it is,” says Anne Limoin, an epidemiologist who studies emerging diseases at UCLA.

Missing data

So far, Chinese health officials have tracked 1,070 contacts with Wuhan patients, excluding 739, but still monitor 331 , according to official reports . China has not yet released information on individual cases outside the country. It does not provide essential details such as the patient’s age, gender, time of onset of symptoms, what may have been exposed, and the current condition of the patient.

According to Maia Majmudah, a public health researcher at the Computational Health Informatics Program (CHIP) based at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital, the information can help assess the mortality risk factors for the ‘2019-nCoV’ virus. May be essential. “If you know the details, you can analyze what made the difference between those who died and those who recovered.”

The lack of such data allows researchers to make vague estimates of virus mortality. The calculations are fairly simple. Divide the number of deaths by the number of known deaths or survivors. You may be tempted to count inpatients, but you may get a false sense of security because the progress is unknown.

Nine out of 471 infected people have died in mainland China. It doesn’t seem that bad, but if we exclude hundreds of people in hospital (patients who don’t know if they die or are alive), the mortality rate is close to 20 percent.

Is this pretty close to actual mortality? I don’t know. If only the number of cases is available at this point in the epidemic, this is only a speculation.

The existence of a key “super spreader”

According to Osterholm of the University of Minnesota, at least one piece of the puzzle is being revealed. Chinese health officials confirmed on Friday that 14 healthcare workers tested positive for 2019-nCoV, and announced that all 14 had been infected by one patient.

If this is true, it suggests a “super spreader” that spreads a large amount of virus and infects many at once. “This is a serious spread and may be much like the situation seen with SARS,” Osterholm says.

He points out that where there is one superspreader, there are probably others. Still, he says he is less worried about the massive 2019-nCoV epidemic in the United States compared to what would happen if the situation worsened in China.

But the United States has shifted much of its pharmaceutical and medical supplies production to China. If the center of such an industry were shut down as public health measures were strengthened or the supply chain was sequestered, the consequence could be a significant shortage of drugs. “That’s what I’m really afraid of at the moment,” says Osterholm.


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