An outbreak of strange pneumonia caused by a new strain of corona virus in China has killed 56 people and infected more than 2,000 people in 12 countries around the world.
The virus, which causes symptoms such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath, is likely to have jumped from animals to humans at a wet seafood market called Huan Nam, in Wuhan City. Huan Nam Seafood Market is described as a “dirty and messy“With over 1,000 stalls. In addition to seafood, the market also sells chickens, squirrels, rabbits, bats and other wildlife.
It has extremely poor sanitation, cramming thousands of people with live and slaughtered animals. And it all turned into a golden opportunity for animal viruses, called zoonoses, to jump, evolve, and infect humans.
This outbreak has caused some people to feel déja vu, reminding them of an acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak that began in November 2002. It is also a corona virus. , and SARS has also jumped to people from animals sold in wet markets.
Outbreaking in Guangdong Province, China, SARS quickly infected 8,098 within 8 months, and killed 774 of them. Patients infected with the SARS virus also have symptoms including fever, headache and then a pneumonia cause respiratory depression can kill them.
Experts call SARS “The first pandemic of the 21st century“because it has spread to 29 countries. Before July 2003, no disease like it had occurred in humans, SARS was horrified by the deaths of pneumonia. strange.
However, compared to what we already know about SARS and witness its dangers, saying the new strain of corona virus in Wuhan will create the next SARS pandemic may be just an exaggerated scenario. Although the two virus strains share a common origin, their degree of danger is actually different.
The new strain of corona virus is less dangerous than SARS, said Scott Gottlieb, a former commissioner at the US Food and Drug Administration. However, it seems to be more contagious, so the new corona disease is spreading faster.
Eric Toner, a senior scientist at John Hopkins University gave a similar review: “An initial initial impression is that it is significantly lighter than SARS, “he said.” That leaves us with peace of mind. But on the other hand, it can be more easily transmitted than SARS, at least in the community“.
So, what is the new strain of corona virus in Wuhan that resembles and unlike the SARS virus 17 years ago, let’s find out:
The first case of corona virus infection in Wuhan was confirmed on December 31, 2019. Wuhan is a city in Hubei Province, China with a population of up to 11 million people.
Meanwhile, the SARS virus first broke out in Guangdong, a southeastern province of China, close to Hong Kong.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 50% of those infected with the SARS virus are those over 65 years of age. The other half belongs to different age groups.
So far, health experts in China have also reported that the average age of people dying of the new corona virus in Wuhan is 75 years old. Many of them have pre-existing chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease causing their immune systems to weaken.
Adrian Hyzler, health director at Healix International, said children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems were the most likely to suffer severe and fatal complications when infected with the new corona virus.
According to the WHO report, SARS did not spread as quickly as the new corona virus in Wuhan in the first 3 weeks.
It takes up to 4 months for SARS to spread and infect up to 1,000 people. Meanwhile, the new corona virus in Wuhan took only 25 days to infect nearly 1,400 people.
“An infected person can infect immediately 10, 20, 30 people“, Hyzler talks about the new strain of corona virus.”So that is why it is more contagious and becomes a bigger problem. “
However, SARS is much more dangerous than the new corona strain now. The mortality rate caused by SARS is 9.6%. The death rate from Wuhan virus is now only about 3%.
One reason that the SARS virus has spread to so many countries around the world is that, initially, the Chinese government tried to hide disease information and not report it to the World Health Organization.
The Chinese government did not notify WHO of the SARS situation until February 14, 2003. According to the Sydney Herald daily, doctors in Beijing received a request to hide SARS patients from WHO tests.
In the early stages of the disease outbreak, the Chinese government also concealed the disease situation with its own people, causing late outbreak control efforts and increasing the chance for the disease to spread. .
Liu Heng, an adviser to the Chinese government, told Reuters that this time, the government issued a statement as soon as the disease broke out.
“We have done much more responsibility … We have been much more focused on preventing the disease“, he told.
Chinese scientists have also embarked on rapid research into new strains of viruses, and share the information they learn with researchers around the world.
Jeremy Farrar, a British scientist who has studied SARS, said: “ The rate at which the new virus in Wuhan is identified as the corona strain is an example of how China has learned from the outbreak. SARS and this time they worked more closely with WHO.
The new strain of corona virus in Wuhan was sequenced in less than half a month. Meanwhile, in 2003, scientists took up to 4 months to do that.
By sharing information about the virus genome, scientists everywhere in the world can work together to analyze the spread of a disease, as well as monitor the variability of the virus strain if it happened.
Analyzing genetic code also allows scientists to determine which virus strains have been transmitted from animals to humans.
In the case of SARS, this virus may have been transmitted from bat to human. Bats leave their saliva and droppings, contagious viruses of other intermediate hosts, which transmit the disease to humans.
“Bats and birds are considered virus-containing animals capable of creating pandemic outbreaks“, Said Bart Haagmans, virologist at Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
SARS jumped from its first host, the bat, to a ferret-like mammal called masked palm civets, which later spread to humans.
According to a group of scientists who are editors at the Medical Virus Journal, the culprit for spreading the new strain of corona virus in Wuhan could be the Chinese cobra. However, this information has not been confirmed.
A genetic analysis of the virus strain in Wuhan shows that it closely resembles a snake infection virus.
Here are five possible strains of the virus from bats and the numbers are: year of detection, number of reported cases of human infection, number of deaths, mortality and number of countries positive patient report.
Previously, researchers traced the origins of SARS to identify the virus that originally belonged to the horseshoe bat population that lives in Yunnan province, China. These bats live in a cave, 1.1 km from a nearby village.
One move that is thought to be the major difference between the SARS outbreak and the disease caused by the current corona strain is that this time China has quickly blocked cities.
Wuhan City, where an outbreak of disease has been contained since 10 am Thursday (January 23) according to local time. The city government has ordered the suspension of all public transportation including buses, trains and ferries. No vehicles are allowed to leave the city and the airport is blocked.
Right before midnight on Thursday, Huanggang City was also cordoned off. By the next day, another 10 cities had been ordered to temporarily close.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization, said efforts to block the city would help China control the spread of the virus and minimize the likelihood of the disease spreading beyond its borders. .
“What they are doing is a very, very strong measure, with full commitment “, Ghebreyesus said at the WHO press conference. The city blockade order is currently affecting tens of millions of Chinese people during the Chinese New Year.
Returning to SARS in 2003, it took 4 months for China to establish its first quarantine measure.
Anthony Fauci, an expert at the US National Institutes of Health, said China this time did a lot better than the SARS epidemic 17 years ago.
But neither SARS nor the new corona virus strain in Wuhan have any vaccine.
“If Wuhan falls, the best scenario is that the vaccine will be made in three quarters or even longer“, Said Vincent Munster, a virologist at the Rocky Mountain Laboratory.
Several companies including Moderna, Novavax and Innovio have said they are planning a preliminary vaccine development. But this work cannot be done overnight. Many vaccines, such as Ebola, took 20 years to produce results. No company can guarantee the timeline for releasing new corona vaccines at this time.
Finally, a new outbreak of corona virus in Wuhan has so far not been considered a pandemic like SARS.
The World Health Organization said yesterday it did not recognize the new corona outbreak as an international public health emergency (PHEIC).
PHEIC is an initiative launched by WHO after the SARS epidemic to deal with similar pandemics globally.