Why the Chinese coronavirus is hard to stop. A medic about whether or not a new virus can be saved by a flu shot

04 February, 2020 г.
Chinese viral pneumonia has been detected in people in more than 20 countries. The Chinese city of Wuhan has become the centre of the epidemic, with bats as a reservoir of the virus. And although no cases of new pneumonia have been recorded in Belarus, it's still interesting why the new virus mutated and transmitted to humans? Natalia Shmeleva, head of the laboratory of influenza and influenza-like diseases of the Russian National Research Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology, told about why they die from coronavirus and whether a flu shot will help them not get infected.
 RSPC Epidemiology and Microbiology, September 2018 "Before the exit from Wuhan was blocked, a significant number of people left it".
- Why is the spread of the new coronavirus hard to stop?
- It happens because the virus is transmitted by airborne droplets during coughing or sneezing, or by touch. The virus has a fairly long incubation period: five to seven days on average and 14 days at most. During this time, an infected person can be a source of infection for others, and the symptoms of the new pneumonia virus are similar to many respiratory diseases and often mimic a common cold.
- China is isolating entire cities, but it still doesn't help stop the virus from spreading into Europe. Why not?
- The epicenter of the epidemic is Wuhan City. Before it was shut down, a significant number of people had left the city. The epidemic caused by the 2019-nCoV virus occurred at a time when Chinese people traditionally travel around the country and abroad to celebrate the New Year on the lunar calendar. Carriers of the virus traveled around the world during the incubation period, and they had no symptoms of the disease at that time. Note that the cases of coronavirus detected in Europe are related to travel to China.
RNC Epidemiology and Microbiology, September 2018.
- Who is at risk for infection?
- People of all ages are at risk of becoming infected with the virus. As with most viral respiratory diseases, children and people over 65 years of age with a weakened immune system are at risk, when the disease can be severe.
- It is believed that medical masks do not protect against virus penetration. After all, the virus also concentrates on the hands: as soon as you remove the mask, touch the face and can get infected. Is that so?
- For effective protection of a medical mask, you must use it properly. First, you should carefully cover your nose and mouth with the mask to reduce the gap between your face and the product. Secondly, you should not touch the mask during use, and if you touch the mask already used it is worth washing your hands.
The mask should be changed every two or three hours, and when it has become wet, put on a new mask - clean and dry. Disposable masks should not be used again and should be discarded immediately after wearing them.
RRC Epidemiology and Microbiology, September 2018.
- If a person has been vaccinated for flu this season, can it help not to get a new coronavirus?
- Coronavirus and influenza virus may have similar symptoms, but genetically they are completely different. An influenza vaccine will therefore have no specific protection against other respiratory agents.
"Which animal became the source of coronavirus is unknown."
- This new coronavirus was specially created by scientists in the lab?
- There are quite a few versions of the virus's origin on social networks, yet there is no evidence of its artificial origin.
- Is it true that the virus's ancestor is among bats?
- The natural reservoir of most coronaviruses are bats. The new coronavirus, like the previously known SARS and MERS coronaviruses, belongs to the betacoronavirus genus derived from bats.
RNCS Epidemiology and Microbiology, September 2018.
- Was there an intermediate carrier of this coronavirus between bats and man?
- Studies have shown that there was an intermediate host for the virus, but what kind of animal was the source of the new coronavirus is still uncertain.
- Why wasn't the virus previously transmitted to humans, but only now?
- It's an RNA virus, and it's evolving quite rapidly. As a result of the mutations that have occurred, it has acquired the ability to infect humans.
"Coronavirus is more likely to kill those over 65 who have a weakened immune system."
- How do you assess the lethality rate of the new coronavirus?
- According to statistics provided by China, the lethality rate is about 2% of the number of detected cases.
RNC Epidemiology and Microbiology, September 2018.
- What diseases are more lethal from?
- If we compare the mortality rate with the closest genetically related coronavirus, such as SARS and MERS, the mortality rate for diseases caused by SARS-coronavirus reached 20%, among registered cases of MERS - 35-40% resulted in an unfavorable outcome.
- Why do coronavirus die in principle?
- Most often it is the people who die from it who are at risk of severe disease, and these are those over 65 years of age, who have a weakened immune system.

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