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What Is Coronavirus & What Happens Now It Is a Pandemic

The disease appears to have originated from a Wuhan seafood market where wild animals, including marmots, birds, rabbits, bats and snakes, are traded illegally. Coronaviruses are known to jump from animals to humans, so it’s thought that the first people infected with the disease – a group primarily made up of stallholders from the seafood market – contracted it from contact with animals.

Although an initial analysis of the virus that causes Covid-19 suggested it was similar to viruses seen in snakes, the hunt for the animal source of Covid-19 is still on. A team of virologists at the Wuhan Institute for Virology released a detailed paper showing that the new coronaviruses’ genetic makeup is 96 per cent identical to that of a coronavirus found in bats, while an as-yet unpublished study argues that genetic sequences of coronavirus in pangolins are 99 per cent similar to the human virus. Some early cases of Covid-19, however, appear to have inflicted people with no link to the Wuhan market at all, suggesting that the initial route of human infection may pre-date the market cases.

The Wuhan market was shut down for inspection and cleaning on January 1, but by then it appears that Covid-19 was already starting to spread beyond the market itself. On January 21, the WHO Western Pacific office said the disease was also being transmitted between humans – evidence of which is apparent after medical staff became infected with the virus. Since then, evidence of widespread human-to-human transmission outside of China has been well established, making chances of containing the virus much harder.

What exactly is Covid-19?

Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that are known to infect both humans and animals, and in humans cause respiratory illness that range from common colds to much more serious infections. The most well-known case of a coronavirus epidemic was Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars), which, after first being detected in southern China in 2002, went on to affect 26 countries and resulted in more than 8,000 cases and 774 deaths. The number of people infected with Covid-19 has now well surpassed those hit with Sars.

While the cause of the current outbreak was initially unknown, on January 7 Chinese health authorities identified that it was caused by to a strain of coronavirus that hadn’t been encountered in humans before. Five days later the Chinese government shared the genetic sequence of the virus so that other countries could develop their own diagnostic kits. That virus is now called Sars-CoV-2.

Although symptoms of coronaviruses are often mild – the most common symptoms are a fever and dry cough – in some cases they lead to more serious respiratory tract illness including pneumonia and bronchitis. These can be particularly dangerous in older patients, or people who have existing health conditions, and this appears to be the case with Covid-19. A study of 44,415 early Chinese Covid-19 patients found that 81 per cent of people with confirmed infections experienced only mild symptoms. Of the remaining cases, 14 per cent were in a severe condition while five per cent of people were critical cases, suffering from respiratory failure, septic shock or multiple organ failure. In the Chinese study, 2.3 per cent of all confirmed cases died, although the actual death rate is probably much lower as many more people will have been infected with the virus than tested positive.

How far has it spread?

China has borne the brunt of Covid-19 infections (so far). As of March 11, Chinese health authorities had acknowledged over 81,250 cases and 3,253 deaths – most of them within the province of Hubei. On March 17, China recorded just 39 new cases of the virus – a remarkable slowdown for a country which, at the peak of its outbreak in mid-February, saw more than 5,000 cases in a single day.

But while things were slowing down in China, the outbreak started picking up in the rest of the world. There are now confirmed cases in at least 150 countries and territories. Outside of China, Italy has seen the highest number of cases, with 47,035 confirmed infections, mostly in the north of the country, and 4,032 deaths – more than in China. The entire country is now on lockdown after the quarantine covering the north of the country was extended on March 9.

Spain is also in the grip of a significant outbreak. The country has 20,410 confirmed infections and 1,043 deaths – the second-highest number within Europe. There, citizens are under lockdown, with the government shutting all schools, bars, restaurants and non-essential supermarkets down. People are only allowed to leave their homes to buy food or to go to work. Germany has 19,711 cases and 53 deaths, with the state of Bavaria implementing a full lockdown.

Iran, too, is seeing a surge in cases. The country has confirmed at least 1,433 deaths and 19,664 cases. In the US, there have been more than 14,631 cases and 210 deaths – 74 of them in Washington State, which has become the epicentre of the US outbreak.

While the number of new cases continues to rise sharply, people are also recovering from the infection. Globally, 84,960 people have recovered from Covid-19 – about 32 per cent of all of the people who had confirmed infections, although the true number of coronavirus cases will be much higher.

What’s the latest in the UK?

As of March 18, the UK has reported 3,983 confirmed Covid-19 infections and 177 deaths. On March 16, prime minister Boris Johnson led the first daily coronavirus press conference, saying that the government now advised all UK residents to avoid non-essential social contact and travel where possible. On Friday March 20 this was extended to include a shutdown of all bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants in the UK. From the same day all schools in England, Scotland and Wales were shut until further notice. Only vulnerable children, or those who are the sons and daughters of employees in the NHS or other key industries, will be permitted to remain at school.

People who currently live alone are recommended to self-isolate for seven days if they develop a fever or persistent dry cough – the two most common symptoms of coronavirus. For families and other people who live together, the advice is that the entire household should self-isolate if any member develops either of those symptoms. This strategy is part of the government’s ‘delay phase‘ plan to flatten the peak of the virus and reduce the burden on the NHS.

A key part of this plan is shielding those who are most vulnerable to Covid-19: people older than 70, or those who have underlying health conditions. The prime minister said that this shielding may last as long as 12 weeks in order to ensure that the peak of the outbreak has passed, although modelling from Imperial College London suggests that these measures may have to be in place for as long as 18 months. Despite these measures, some have been critical that the government’s stance doesn’t go far enough. Italy and Spain have both in place widespread lockdowns, while South Korea has rolled-out extremely comprehensive testing for many of its population.

The outbreak has also had a serious impact on the UK’s stock market. On March 9 the FTSE 100 fell by more than eight per cent, knocking billions off the value of major UK companies. Cinema changes Odeon, Cineworld and Vue closed their doors while Euro 2020 was also delayed until 2021, which is an added blow to broadcasters, particularly ITV.

What are the symptoms of Covid-19?

Covid-19 shares many of its symptoms with the flu or common cold, although there are certain symptoms common to flu and colds that are not usually seen in Covid-19. People with confirmed cases of Covid-19 rarely suffer from a runny nose, for instance.

The most common Covid-19 symptoms are a fever and a dry cough. Of 55,924 early Chinese cases of the disease, nearly 90 per cent of patients experienced a fever and just over two-thirds suffered with a dry cough. That’s why the UK government is advising anyone with a high temperature or a new, continuous cough to stay at home for seven days or, if they live with other people, for the entire household to isolate for 14 days from the first onset of symptoms.

Other Covid-19 symptoms are less common. Just under 40 per cent of people with the disease experience fatigue, while a third of people cough up sputum – a thick mucus from within the lungs. Other rarer symptoms include shortness of breath, muscle pain, sore throats, headaches or chills. According to the WHO, symptoms tend to appear between five and six days after infection.

What’s happening with a vaccine?

A vaccine for Covid-19 isn’t around the corner. Bringing vaccines to the market is a notoriously slow process and any potential vaccine will have to pass multiple stages of testing for safety and effectiveness. And once we know a vaccine is safe, we will also need to manufacture it at a scale high enough to use across the world. It’s likely that any vaccine is around 18 months away.

That said, there is lots of work being done to develop a vaccine for Covid-19. The pharmaceutical firm Sanofi is trying to build on its already-approved flu vaccine and turn it into something suitable to treat Covid-19. Other approaches – such as one being trialled by the University of Oxford – are focusing on the external spike proteins on the Covid-19 virus as a way to target vaccines.

But accelerating these efforts will require funding. The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) has called for $2 billion in funding to support the development of new coronavirus vaccines.

What’s going to happen next?

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has warned that the window of opportunity to contain Covid-19 is “narrowing”. Recent outbreaks in Italy and Iran, which so far have no clear link to China, pose a significant challenge to health authorities trying to stop the spread of the virus.

After initially delaying the decision, on March 11, the WHO declared the Covid-19 outbreak a pandemic. The agency cited the rapid growth of cases outside of China and the global spread of the disease as reasons behind the designation. In January, it also declared the outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern” – the highest category of warning for an infectious disease outbreak.

Since 2009 there have only been five declarations of international public health emergencies: the swine flu pandemic in 2009, a polio outbreak in 2014, the Western Africa Ebola outbreak in 2014, the Zika virus outbreak in 2015 and another Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2019.

Matt Reynolds is WIRED’s science editor. He tweets from @mattsreynolds1

Source: What is coronavirus and what happens now it is a pandemic?

Please follow my instagram: http://instagram.com/arminhamidian67

And why the disease first appeared in China. NOTE: As our expert Peter Li points out in the video, “The majority of the people in China do not eat wildlife animals. Those people who consume these wildlife animals are the rich and the powerful –a small minority.” This video explains how the people of China are themselves victims of the conditions that led to coronavirus. The virus is affecting many different countries and cultures, and there is never justification for xenophobia or racism. You can find further reading on this on Vox: https://www.vox.com/2020/2/7/21126758… https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politi… https://www.vox.com/identities/2020/3…

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There Is A Drug Already Used In Japan Which May Treat COVID-19, Says New Study

A group of scientists in Germany have identified a drug called camostat mesylate, that they believe may work to combat COVID-19, the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

The new study published last week in Cell, shows that SARS-CoV-2 binds to human cells in a similar way to the original SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV) that caused a worldwide outbreak in 2003, with this binding depending on viral proteins called ‘spike’ proteins.

“Spike is so named because that’s what it looks like: a spike on the surface of the virus particle,” said Angela L. Rasmussen, PhD, a virologist in the faculty of the Center for Infection and Immunity at the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health. “In order for a virus to infect a cell, it has to attach itself to a protein on the surface of that cell which we call the receptor. For SARS-CoV-2, this is a protein called ACE2. Spike binds ACE2 and allows SARS-CoV-2 to enter and infect cells,” she added.

As well as this initial process, the spike protein has to be primed by an enzyme called a protease in order for the virus to complete entry into the cell. The study showed that similar to SARS-CoV, SARS-CoV-2 uses a protease called TMPRSS2 to complete this process.

The scientists then looked at whether there were any compounds available that could stop the entry of coronavirus into the cell by stopping the TMPRSS2 protease from working. From previous work on SARS-CoV, they found one potential candidate called camostat mesylate and showed that the drug stopped SARS-CoV-2 from infecting lung cells in a dish.

“We found that SARS-CoV-2, like SARS-CoV, uses the host proteins ACE2 and TMPRSS2 to enter cells. Both viruses should therefore infect similar cells in patients and may cause disease via similar mechanisms,” said Markus Hoffmann, PhD, researcher in the Infection Biology Unit of the German Primate Center, Leibniz Institute for Primate Research, Göttingen, Germany and first author of the paper.

Developing new drugs for infectious diseases or even diseases such as cancer or neurological conditions can take years, even decades. But camostat mesylate has already been tested in people, albeit not for the treatment of COVID-19.

“We knew from our previous work that camostat mesylate was active against other coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV. Therefore, we tested whether it is also active against SARS-CoV-2,” said Stefan Pöhlmann, PhD, Professor in the same institute in Göttingen. “Our study shows that camostat mesylate blocks infection of cells with SARS-CoV-2-like particles and with authentic, patient-derived SARS-CoV-2. Moreover, camostat mesylate inhibited infection of important target cells – human lung epithelial cells,” he added.

The compound is approved in Japan for the treatment of a number of non-infectious conditions in people, such as chronic pancreatitis and postoperative reflux esophagitis and has also had some tests in mice infected with SARS-CoV. However, it has never been tested in humans with COVID-19.

“It does require trials in humans to determine if it’s effective, and I suspect it would also require pre-clinical animal work with SARS-CoV-2 specifically before human trials could start. If it has been shown to be safe for clinical use in other countries, it may be fast-tracked for FDA approval or the FDA may authorize emergency off-label use,” said Rasmussen, indicating that the FDA will have to examine safety data and pre-clinical data before determining which, if any course of action to take with investigating the drug further.

One concern is that TMPRSS2 might not be the only protease that controls spike priming and hence blocking it may be ineffective in people as other proteases may act as backups, still allowing the virus entry into cells. There are also questions to be asked about how the drug would actually alter the ability of the virus to cause disease in people.

“Pathogenesis can’t be studied in cultured cells, so these questions will need to be addressed using animal models and human clinical samples,” said Rasmussen.

Given the similarities between SARS-CoV and the current virus SARS-CoV-2, the researchers also looked at whether people who recovered from SARS had any immunity to the new virus strain. They took serum containing antibodies taken from 3 recovering SARS-CoV patients back around the time of the original outbreak in 2003 and showed that this blocked entry of SARS-CoV-2 into cells. The serum was taken from patients b

“Antibodies from patients who had recovered from SARS blocked the SARS-CoV-2 from infecting cells in culture. This suggests that antibodies against SARS might be useful as a treatment for SARS-CoV-2,” said Rasmussen.

SARS in 2003 was a smaller outbreak compared to the current situation with only 8,098 cases formally recorded and over 7,000 people surviving. It is not known how many of these people are still alive today, but it is possible that they will have some immunity to COVID-19. On a wider scale, studying these people may provide incredibly useful clues about successfully treating COVID-19. So, what are the next steps for the researchers?

“We are currently analyzing whether camostat mesylate-related inhibitors show improved antiviral activity. So far we have not been contacted by others regarding off-label use of camostat mesylate. However, we are contacting physicians to discuss this option,” said Pöhlmann.

There are currently no FDA-approved treatments for COVID-19, but last week, the National Institutes of Health announced that the antiviral drug remdesivir had begun testing in a human clinical trial in the U.S. Remdesivir, marketed by Gilead Sciences has previously shown promise in preventing MERS coronavirus disease in tests on monkeys and is already being used in human trials in Wuhan. The first patient in the U.S. is an American who was evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which became a floating incubator for the virus, resulting in over 700 infections and six deaths reported so far.

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I am a postdoctoral research scientist focusing on childhood cancers and new, targeted cancer therapies. As a survivor of childhood leukemia myself, I am a determined advocate for research into better, less-toxic cancer treatments and how to reduce the long-term side effects of current drugs. I am an award-winning science communicator and have written for The Times, The Guardian and various cancer-focused outlets. I am also a 2017 TED Fellow, having done my TED talk this year on cancer survivorship and I regularly do public talks on topics ranging from ‘Why haven’t we cured cancer yet?’ to ‘Cannabis and cancer; hype or hope?’. I am passionate about using social media to communicate science and frequently share pictures and stories from my own laboratory work in real-time on my Twitter account @vickyyyf, alongside commentary about important research breakthroughs. You can find out more about me and how to get in contact via my website drvickyforster.com. All of my articles reflect my personal views and not those of my employer.

Source: There Is A Drug Already Used In Japan Which May Treat COVID-19, Says New Study

(25 Feb 2020) The University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha announced Tuesday it is enrolling adults diagnosed with the Coronavirus for a new clinical drug trial to treat the disease.

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