My Top 5 (COVID-19) Points

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1SARS-CoV-2 (nCoV) is part of the family of viruses known as Coronaviruses.

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV)A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.  Over 60 coronaviruses (CoVs) have been isolated from bats (BtCoV) and most of these are in the genus betacoronavirus. Bats serve as large (and highly mobile) CoV reservoirs

Since most common carriers are bats, they do not typically transmit coronaviruses directly to humans. Instead, the transmission might occur via an “intermediary” animal, which will usually — though not always — be a domestic one. –medical news today

In the past the SARS coronavirus spread to humans via civet cats, while the MERS virus spread via Camels. We still do not know the exact mammal (or animal) to human transmission and it will be difficult to determine the animal from which a coronavirus infection first starts spreading.

2COVID-19 – is not like the FLU

FLU numbers from the CDC

Death Rate: The flu in the US has 12 million cases that need some medical attention with up to 36,000 deaths. This is a 0.3% fatality rate. The number of deaths from coronavirus has increased to over 2000. Only about 20% of the severe cases have fully recovered at this point. The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention puts the overall death rate for the coronavirus ncov-19 at 2.3%. Which we all know that this number is LOW – we do not have the final fatalities accounted for out of China.

Infection Rate:  Scientists have studied seasonal flu for decades. So, despite the danger of it, we know a lot about flu viruses and what to expect each season. In contrast, very little is known about COVID-19 because it’s so new. This means COVID-19 is something of a wild card in terms of how far it will spread and how many deaths it will cause. 

The measure scientists use to determine how easily a virus spreads is known as the “basic reproduction number,” or R0 (pronounced R-nought). This is an estimate of the average number of people who catch the virus from a single infected person, Live science previously reported. The flu has an R0 value of about 1.3, according to The New York Times.

Researchers are still working to determine the R0 for COVID-19. A study published Jan. 29 in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) estimated an R0 value for the new coronavirus to be 2.2, meaning each infected person has been spreading the virus to an average of 2.2 people.

Note: Our own calculations on the R0 based upon give numbers (which we know are not accurate) was between 1.5-2.0. Just the number of days and the exponential increase indicates the R0 number is lower than it should be.

So if we just simply take the spread of the flu at some ‘x’ million per year and literally take the same R0(naught) numbers with a marginal increase – this Virus has the potential to impact millions.  If accurate, this makes the 2019 nCoV more infectious than the 1918 influenza pandemic virus, which had an R0 of 1.80 — source: CIDRAP

Severe case rate: Lastly, the severe case rate is considerably higher than the flu. An NPR article is chilling in the articulation that some 20% of COVID-19 patients are hospitalized. The addition concerns, much like the flu is that this is a virus that we will see year after year. The Flu is well under 3% of hospitalizations based upon CDC numbers (above). NPR article

source: WorldOmeter

3The acceleration of the virus is UNIQUE

We are seeing new HOT SPOTS popping up daily. Recently it has been Italy, Iran and South Korea. The World Health Organization says the window to contain the virus is narrowing. The CDC has recently put out guidance regarding keeping distances from people, crowds, travel bans/advisories, etc. Remember that we are less than 60 days from the initial virus outbreak and acknowledgement from Wuhan, China. In reality, we have only been actively monitoring the situation for just around 30 days. 79k people infected / 30 days = 2.6k daily (simple math). There is of course more scientific and mathematical calculations to satisfy the statistician – however we must not ignore simple/common-sense at this point.

4The jury is still out on Asymptomatic Spreading

The New England Journal of Medicine published the following: …The viral load that was detected in the asymptomatic patient was similar to that in the symptomatic patients, which suggests the transmission potential of asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic patients. These findings are in concordance with reports that transmission may occur early in the course of infection5 and suggest that case detection and isolation may require strategies different from those required for the control of SARS-CoV.

Jama reports – A novel coronavirus has resulted in an ongoing outbreak of viral pneumonia in China.13 Person-to-person transmission has been demonstrated,1 but, to our knowledge, transmission of the novel coronavirus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) from an asymptomatic carrier with normal chest computed tomography (CT) findings has not been reported.

BUT- There is something here still! You can carry the virus and be “Asymptomatic”

5The virus is severe and has a BIAS (Men vs. Women)

Source: The Scientist
Fourteen percent of confirmed cases have been “severe,” involving serious pneumonia and shortness of breath. Another 5 percent of patients confirmed to have the disease developed respiratory failure, septic shock, and/or multi-organ failure—what the agency calls “critical cases” potentially resulting in death. Roughly 2.3 percent of confirmed cases did result in death.

Scientists are working to understand why some people suffer more from the virus than others. It is also unclear why the new coronavirus—like its cousins SARS and MERS—appears to be more deadly than other coronaviruses that regularly circulate among people each winter and typically cause cold symptoms.

An intriguing finding in the new data released last week is that although similar numbers of men and women have contracted SARS-CoV-2, more men are dying from the disease. The death rate for males was 2.8 percent and 1.7 percent for women.

The difference could have something to do with the fact that the gene for the ACE-2 receptor, which is used by both SARS-CoV-2 and the SARS virus to enter host cells, is found on the X chromosome, she speculates. If it’s a particular variant of the protein that makes people more susceptible to the virus, then females could compensate for that one bad variant because they’d have two copies of the X chromosome, whereas men would be stuck with only one copy.

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