The 2019-20 China pneumonia outbreak in Wuhan was traced to a novel coronavirus, which is labeled 2019-nCoV by The World Health Organization. The first clinical trials studying the new deadly coronavirus, rapidly spreading in China and nearby countries, seems to trigger symptoms similar to those observed with severe acute respiratory distress syndrome (SARS) coronavirus outbreak in 2003 based on new studies.

As of this writing, up to five cases have been reported in the United States and 2,700 worldwide

Two new studies

Published in the Lancet journal on Jan 24, 2020, the new data is based on the first clinical trials conducted on patients affected by the new coronavirus known as 2019-nCoV. By Friday this past week, 830 confirmed cases and 26 deaths in China were tied to the coronavirus, which apparently has originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan. These studies looked at the course of infection in some of the first Wuhan virus cases. The first study was conducted by the China-Japan Friendship Hospital and Capital Medical University, reported MedicineNet.

First Study

Led by Bin Cao, with the China-Japan Friendship Hospital and Capital Medical University, one study, investigators analyzed clinical records, laboratory results, imaging findings and epidemiological data on the first 41 infected people admitted to the hospital in Wuhan from December 16, 2019 AND Jan. 2, 2020. Most of the patients in this first study were of middle-age (average 49), three-quarters were men and two-thirds had visited a local seafood market where it is though the virus may have originated.

It appears that just like with the 2003 SARS China outbreak, a majority of the patients stricken with the Wuhan coronavirus were healthy and not facing material underlying health issues. Symptoms were also similar to those of SARS. 100% of the hospitalized patients experienced pneumonia; 98% had a fever, 75% developed a cough; 44% felt fatigued and 55% had some shortness of breath. On the other hand, at least in this first reported study, headache and diarrhea were not common.

Investigator Bin Cao wrote in the Lancet that there were some differences as well, however. Those combating the new virus didn’t experience runny noses or other upper respiratory tract symptoms—moreover, few had intestinal symptoms such as diarrhea which was more common with SARS back in 2003. Moreover, at least 33% of the hospitalized patients experienced such severe symptoms that they were rushed to the ICU—six patients died. In the very ill patients, some experienced a condition known as “cytokine storm,” which is an immune system dysfunction.

Finally, by January 22, 2020, most of the patients (68%) had recovered enough to be discharged.

Second Study

This study, led by Dr. Kwok-Yung Yuen with the University of Hong Kong-Shenzhen Hospital, was the first such study to involve gene analysis in the tracking of 2019-nCoV in one family of seven people. Apparently, five of the family members visited Wuhan and were carrying 2019-nCoV and one family member who hadn’t traveled there was also infected. However, even the family members that visited Wuhan had not visited the food markets or animals during their stay—implicating a person-to-person transmission. A seventh family member wore a surgical mask during her stay at Wuhan and had not been infected. A second child had been infected but revealed no evidence of symptoms. Suggesting that 2019-nCov can spread person-to-person who don’t even recognized that they have been infected.  The symptoms appear to materialize within the first few days of contact with infected individuals.

The investigators also found that five of the family members carried a form of 2019-nCoV that included a type of protein enabling it to enter healthy cells. The investigators utilized samples from two patients to map the full genome of 2019-nCoV.

Improved Public Health Surveillance Network in China

Dr. Rosana Wing-Shan Poon, University of Hong Kong, reports that the improved surveillance network and laboratory capability developed from the SARS pandemic has helped China be better prepared to not only recognize the outbreak within a few weeks but also allows research teams to analyze and publish the virus genome, making it publicly available to help control its spread.

Lead Research/Investigators

Bin Cao, China-Japan Friendship Hospital and Capital Medical University

Dr. Kwok-Yung Yuen, University of Hong Kong-Shenzhen Hospital

Source: MedicineNet

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