UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — Based on the available primary data, epidemiologists believe that the newly emerging Coronavirus that has appeared in China will infect at least tens of thousands of patients, and that its spread will continue for months at best.
“The best scenario would be for it to continue in the spring and summer and then back off,” David Weissmann, a professor at the University of Toronto and author of a publication for the International Society of Infectious Diseases, told AFP.
For his part, Alessandro Vespignani, a professor at Northeastern University, who is the coordinator of a group of researchers publishing analyzes simultaneously about the epidemic, told France Press that the disease “will not stop next week or next month.” “We don’t risk saying that this will last for a long time,” he added.
Epidemiologists cannot predict what will happen and stress that they only have fragmented information about the new virus that emerged in December in China. They use mathematical models to estimate the number of actual cases to date and to compare previous epidemics, but many assumptions are still not confirmed.
Until the end of last week, it was believed that infected people did not transmit the disease before symptoms appeared (fever, breathing difficulties, and pneumonia), but Chinese authorities announced on Sunday that this was possible, which has not yet been confirmed by the World Health Organization.
On Monday, the Americans said they had no evidence. And if people who do not show symptoms of high body temperature can transmit the disease, this inevitably alters the dynamics of the epidemic.
Estimating the body’s incubation period for the disease began with about two weeks, while the World Health Organization considers it to be shorter, and ranges between two and ten days.
– patience –
In recent days, several experts have calculated an important criterion for epidemics: the basic reproductive rate or R-Zero, which represents the number of people who have contracted the disease from an infected person.
Their estimates range from 1.4 to 3.8, according to Wiseman, which is considered a moderate rate.
But the number is only average – some patients may have transmitted the virus to a large number of people while others have transmitted it to only a small number. “There is no reason to panic,” said Maimona Majumder of Harvard University and the Boston Children’s Hospital.
And remember, this rate is 1.3 for seasonal colds (which records millions of cases annually) and ranges from 2 to 5 for SARS (acute respiratory syndrome that affected 8,000 people and killed 774 in 2002 and 2003), compared to 12 to 18 for measles.
With preventive measures taken from quarantine, isolating patients, automatic hand-washing and wearing masks, the rate of infected persons can decrease. If the primary reproductive rate becomes below 1, the epidemic will be removed.
But the researchers say the effect of the measures China has taken in recent days will appear in a week or two, as this is the duration of the virus’s cycle.
“It seems more and more that it resembles SARS,” said David Weissmann, adding that “SARS could have been controlled, so we hope this (virus) also will be, but we will not know it until a few weeks ago.”
“This will take weeks, probably months, and nobody knows how this will develop,” he added.
The number of official injuries reached more than four thousand in China (with more than a hundred deaths) and fifty injured abroad.
And the International Coordinating Group at Northeastern University recommends that the number of real casualties in China, including cases not yet discovered, is more than 25,000, according to Alessandro Vespiniani.
For their part, researchers at the University of Hong Kong consider that the actual number of infected people now exceeds 40,000.
“It is easy to see this number increasing two or three times, only in Wuhan,” says Vespiniani. He added that if the epidemic reaches “other big cities, the numbers will rise a lot.”
The researcher did not want to estimate the number of possible deaths. The death rate so far is about 3%, but it tends to rise and fall: it rises at the beginning when the most vulnerable people die and retracts later, to rise again when others die.
The coming weeks will reveal the real danger of the emerging corona virus.
This article is written and prepared by our foreign editors writing for OBSERVATORY NEWS from different countries around the world – material edited and published by OBSERVATORY staff in our newsroom.
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