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posted by martyb on Tuesday January 28 2020, @11:38PM   Printer-friendly
from the clearing-the-air dept.

https://blogs.sciencemag.org/pipeline/archives/2020/01/27/coronavirus

As the world knows, we face an emerging virus threat in the Wuhan coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak. The problem is, right now there are several important things that we don't know about the situation. The mortality rate, the ease of human-human transmission, the rate of mutation of the virus (and how many strains we might be dealing with – all of these need more clarity. Unfortunately, we've already gone past the MERS outbreak in severity (which until now was the most recent new coronavirus to make the jump into humans). If we're fortunate, though, we'll still have something that will be worrisome, but not as bad as (say) the usual flu numbers (many people don't realize that influenza kills tens of thousands of people in the US each year). The worst case, though, is something like 1918, and we really, really don't need that.

[Ed note: The linked story is by Derek Lowe who writes a "commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry". He is perhaps best known for his "Things I Won't Work With" blog entries which are as hilarious as they are... eye opening. I have found him to be a no-nonsense writer who "tells things as they are", holding no punches. The whole story is worth reading as he clearly explains what a coronavirus is, about the current one that reportedly originated in Wuhan, China, what could be done about it, how long that would likely take, and what can be done for those who have already been infected. --martyb]

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29 2020, @12:42AM (6 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29 2020, @12:42AM (#950351)

    Unfortunately, we've already gone past the MERS outbreak in severity

    This seems a bit alarmist. I thought MERS had a staggering mortality rate compared to the estimates I've seen for the Coroaovirus. Please correct me if I'm mistaken.

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by takyon on Wednesday January 29 2020, @01:14AM (5 children)

    by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Wednesday January 29 2020, @01:14AM (#950371) Journal

    The problem with the coronavirus doesn't seem to be the mortality rate (although that could be difficult to quantify given bad data from China), but the fact that it can spread easily and with asymptomatic transmission. Then you have people boarding planes and making it through screenings, masks not being very effective, etc.

    The comparison to MERS is about quantity.

    https://www.sciencenews.org/article/how-new-wuhan-coronavirus-stacks-up-against-sars-mers [sciencenews.org]

    MERS = 30% mortality, 2,494 cases

    2019-nCoV = 3-4% mortality (supposedly), X cases

    X is officially around 5,000 globally, more than MERS, but another estimate being thrown around is 100,000 [theguardian.com].

    Mutations could also be a problem: Coronavirus's ability to spread getting stronger, China suggests [theguardian.com]

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    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by deimtee on Wednesday January 29 2020, @03:38AM (4 children)

      by deimtee (3272) on Wednesday January 29 2020, @03:38AM (#950442) Journal

      Mutations could also be a problem: Coronavirus's ability to spread getting stronger, China suggests

      A basic understanding of evolution would indicate that. If the virus is mutating then the variants that spread the best will be the ones that spread the most. It's practically a tautology. The only reason everything on the planet hasn't already been wiped out by disease is that efficiency in spreading usually involves becoming less lethal. After all, dead organisms generally don't move around much.

      --
      No problem is insoluble, but at Ksp = 2.943×10−25 Mercury Sulphide comes close.
      • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Wednesday January 29 2020, @03:48AM (3 children)

        by c0lo (156) on Wednesday January 29 2020, @03:48AM (#950447) Journal

        The only reason everything on the planet hasn't already been wiped out by disease is that efficiency in spreading usually involves becoming less lethal.

        On the long run, the best parasite is the one that doesn't kill the host?

        Take the herpes virus as example - still in the 'warts relief, no actual cure' state since forever (HPV and herpes are two different things [healthline.com])

        --
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
        • (Score: 2) by deimtee on Wednesday January 29 2020, @04:21AM (2 children)

          by deimtee (3272) on Wednesday January 29 2020, @04:21AM (#950472) Journal

          Usually, but there are some pretty wacky parasites out there. Multi-host ones often need to kill the intermediate hosts. For instance that liver fluke one that gets in an ant and makes it climb up a grass stalk and wait to be eaten by a sheep.

          Here's a fun read with nice pictures: https://www.nzgeo.com/stories/body-snatching-parasites/ [nzgeo.com]

          --
          No problem is insoluble, but at Ksp = 2.943×10−25 Mercury Sulphide comes close.
          • (Score: 2) by Azuma Hazuki on Wednesday January 29 2020, @04:43AM (1 child)

            by Azuma Hazuki (5086) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 29 2020, @04:43AM (#950490) Journal

            Shit like this is why there are so many atheists in the life sciences. I do not blame them one bit.

            --
            I am "that girl" your mother warned you about...
            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29 2020, @06:08AM

              by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29 2020, @06:08AM (#950526)

              The curious thing is that God seems to love the pathogens as much as He loves the victims.