The new coronavirus that causes the strange pneumonia that is spreading from China to the rest of the world is still a mystery with more questions than answers. With the help of experts in this type of infections we tell you the certainties and doubts that scientists debate.
The infectious agent that is causing this epidemic is a virus from the same family as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome), diseases that are transmitted from animals to humans, but also have the capacity of mutating and transmitting among humans. It is a type of virus called coronavirus because of the pathogen’s shape.
How did it originate?
It is known that the new outbreak of viral pneumonia emerged in a typical “wet market” in the city of Wuhan where live animals are usually purchased for consumption. There is a great variety of species stacked in cages, from exotic animals to chickens, ducks or pigs. These traditional markets are a perfect breeding ground for the transmission of diseases from animals to humans. The animal species that causes pneumonia has not yet been identified “and that is one of the big problems to stop the infection,” warns Luis Enjuanes, a coronavirus specialist at the National Center for Biotechnology. “If you don’t know where it comes from, how do you stop it?” He asks. It is known that it emerged in a market, but it has not yet been ascertained which animal species has generated it. The last theory, after ruling out other animals, is that it would have begun to be transmitted by an animal similar to deer or deer, although the source has not yet been identified. It is also speculated that they are jinetas or musk cat, and carriers of the virus but it is not yet epidemiologically confirmed.
Do you have treatment?
“There is no specific antiviral on the market for this type of coronavirus, only experimental treatments,” warns Enjuanes. For now, the isolation of the sick and the treatment of symptoms are the only effective measures.
Is it very lethal?
The good news is that, at the moment, the coronavirus is not very lethal. As with the SARS epidemic between 2002 and 2003, the mortality of those affected depended on age. If it infected a child, it was overcome without problems; if it happened between 15 and 55 years, 10% died and with more than 65 years the possibilities rose to 70. According to the initial data, the mortality of the new coronavirus is 1.5%, but it will have to be monitored daily for See how cases evolve. “For now,” 2019-nCoV “can be considered less aggressive in its consequences, compared to SARS and MERS,” experts from the Animal Health program of the Institute of Agrifood Research and Technology (IRTA) told Efe.
Is the person-to-person transmission worried?
Confirmation that the coronavirus is transmitted between people is not good news because it means that the epidemic will continue to spread. The cases detected to date may be just the tip of the iceberg. Due to the low transparency of the Beijing regime, as happened during the SARS, experts from Hong Kong and the United Kingdom estimate that there would be many more cases of the 300 reported: between 1,400 and 1,700 infected in Wuhan and 20 other cities in China.
Flu more pneumonia?
The coincidence of the virus in flu season is also worrying. The symptoms are similar and can be confused, which could mask the cases and not isolate coronavirus patients thinking they are conventional flu. Winter also favors the spread of the virus for three reasons: «The temperature is very important because the cold favors these coronaviruses, the hours of light in winter are less and the ultraviolet rays have less capacity to inactivate the viruses. Also, at this time, people spend more time indoors and it is easier to transmit infections, ”recalls Luis Enjuanes. .