Scientists explain how the virus is killing patients–mostly elderly or people with underlying medical conditions–when about 80 percent only have mild symptoms from the infection. In other news related to the science behind the outbreak: a forecast of an epidemic, the infection rate, how long the virus can linger on surfaces, a treatment option, and more.
WBUR: How COVID-19 Kills: The New Coronavirus Disease Can Take A Deadly Turn
More than 1,300 people, almost all in China, have now died from COVID-19 — the newly minted name for the coronavirus disease first identified in Wuhan, China, that has infected more than 55,000 people. Yet according to the World Health Organization, the disease is relatively mild in about 80% of cases, based on preliminary data from China. (Godoy, 2/14)
Stat: Disease Modelers Gaze Into Their Computers To See The Future Of Covid-19, And It Isn’t Good
At least 550,000 cases. Maybe 4.4 million. Or something in between. Like weather forecasters, researchers who use mathematical equations to project how bad a disease outbreak might become are used to uncertainties and incomplete data, and Covid-19, the disease caused by the new-to-humans coronavirus that began circulating in Wuhan, China, late last year, has those everywhere you look. That can make the mathematical models of outbreaks, with their wide range of forecasts, seem like guesswork gussied up with differential equations; the eightfold difference in projected Covid-19 cases in Wuhan, calculated by a team from the U.S. and Canada, isn’t unusual for the early weeks of an outbreak of a never-before-seen illness. (Begley, 2/14)
The Wall Street Journal: How Many People Might One Person With Coronavirus Infect?
When an infection erupts the way coronavirus has exploded in Wuhan, China, and elsewhere in the world, public-health experts try to gauge the potential for an epidemic—or, worse, a pandemic—by calculating the pathogen’s basic reproduction number. The figure, generally written as R0 and pronounced “R naught,” is an estimate of how many healthy people one contagious person will infect. Because viruses spread exponentially, a few cases can quickly blow up to an overwhelming number. An R0 of two suggests a single infection will, on average, become two, then four, then eight. (McGinty, 2/16)
The Associated Press: Questions Complicate Efforts To Contain New Virus From China
Reports one day suggest the respiratory outbreak in China might be slowing, the next brings word of thousands more cases. Even the experts have whiplash in trying to determine if the epidemic is getting worse, or if a backlog of the sick is finally getting counted. Continuing questions about the new virus are complicating health authorities’ efforts to curtail its spread around the world. And the United States is taking the first steps to check that cases masquerading as the flu won’t be missed, another safeguard on top of travel restrictions and quarantines. (Neergaard, 2/15)
CNN: How Long Coronaviruses May Linger On Contaminated Surfaces, According To Science
Concerns are mounting about how long the novel coronavirus may survive on surfaces — so much so that China’s central bank has taken measures to deep clean and destroy its cash, which changes hands multiple times a day, in an effort to contain the virus. It is unknown exactly how long the novel coronavirus can linger on contaminated surfaces and objects with the potential of infecting people, but some researchers are finding clues by studying the elusive behaviors of other coronaviruses. (Howard, 2/18)
The Wall Street Journal: Gilead’s Coronavirus Drug Trial Slowed By Lack Of Eligible Recruits
Clinical trials being conducted in Wuhan to test Gilead Sciences Inc.’s antiviral drug, a promising remedy for the new coronavirus, are going more slowly than hoped for as the drugmaker struggles to recruit qualified patients, underscoring the challenges in quickly developing drugs during outbreaks. The trials, aimed at testing more than 700 patients infected with the Wuhan coronavirus, have succeeded in recruiting fewer than 200 people after 10 days. (2/18)
Boston Globe: Northeastern Students Target Rumors, Falsehoods On Coronavirus Via New On-Line Magazine
While much of the world focuses on the rising death toll and infection rates from the coronavirus, a new on-line magazine produced by international students at Northeastern University aims to put a human face on the outbreak and challenge some of the falsehoods surrounding the crisis. In a recent post in the Global Observer, graduate student Yushu Tian painted an eerie picture of conditions in Wuhan, the city of 11 million at the center of the epidemic: Transportation in and out the city shut down; residents primarily confined to their homes. Included in her post were photos of a barren subway and vacant main road. (Sorensen, 2/16)
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
Syndicated from https://khn.org/morning-breakout/for-most-people-infected-with-coronavirus-symptoms-will-be-mild-so-whats-happening-in-the-extreme-cases/