By Natalie Rahhal, U.S. Health Editor for DailyMail.com
WHAT IS THE DANGEROUS OF CORONAVIRUS?
About 14 percent of people who get Covid-19 coronavirus are transported to hospital – with severe symptoms, including breathing problems and pneumonia. About 5% need intensive care.
But the majority of people with the virus only have a cough and may never know they are infected.
So far, some 51,000 people around the world have already recovered from the coronavirus – and that only includes the numbers that have been diagnosed.
HOW MANY PEOPLE DIE?
Officially, the death rate has so far been just over 3%. But experts estimate that the true death rate is probably between 1 and 2%. Indeed, most mild cases have not been detected by doctors or reflected in official figures – the death rate is therefore inflated.
HOW DOES IT COMPARE WITH OTHER DISEASES?
Seasonal flu kills about 0.1% of people. So Covid-19 is between 10 and 20 times more lethal.
But it is much less dangerous than SARS – the virus that ravaged China in 2003 – which killed 10% of patients.
BUT DOESN’T CORONAVIRUS SPREAD EASIER?
Yes, but not dramatically. The best estimates suggest that each person with Covid-19 transmits it to 2.6 people on average. For influenza, this number is 1.5.
CAN IT BE SPREAD WITHOUT SYMPTOMS?
Initially, scientists feared that carriers who had no symptoms could transmit it. It is now in doubt.
What is likely, however, is that those with mild symptoms put him on the cold and go on with their normal lives – putting others at risk.
HOW LONG IS IT BEFORE THE SYMPTOMS APPEAR?
Again, not clear. Initially, scientists said it could take up to two weeks.
But recent evidence suggests that the incubation period could last up to a month – especially in children.
However, the average is much shorter. A Chinese study indicated that the average period of onset of symptoms was 5.4 days for adults and 6.5 days for children.
WHO IS AT RISK?
The virus can affect anyone – a study of the first 41 people infected found that two-thirds had no pre-existing conditions. But middle-aged people are most likely to get it – 78% of those infected in China are between 30 and 69 years old.
WHAT ABOUT THE OLD?
So far, only 3 percent of those infected are over the age of 80 – but if they do, they are more vulnerable. Analysis of 72,000 cases in China suggests that for those over 80, the mortality rate is 15%. For those in their sixties, the death rate is 8% and for those in their sixties, 4%.
WHO ELSE IS VULNERABLE?
Those who suffer from other conditions – such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and kidney problems – are likely to suffer from serious complications if they are infected.
WHAT ABOUT CHILDREN?
Children seem to be at low risk. Less than 1% of Chinese cases are under the age of ten – and if children get the virus, it is often a mild form.
However, they keep the virus longer than adults.
Last week, a study found that the virus was still present in the stools of some children for a month after getting it.
IS GENDER IMPORTANT?
Men are slightly more likely to get the virus than women. It is unclear why this is.
HOW DO PHYSICIANS TEST FOR COVID-19?
Anyone with symptoms – especially if they have been to a risky area – is advised to call their health care provider, local emergency department or clinics in advance.
In this way, healthcare providers can be prepared, wearing masks, gloves and other personal protective equipment when they meet the prospective patient and escort them to isolated areas of the facility.
They are tested using a cotton swab which is sent for analysis to one of the 12 laboratories of Public Health England, a process that takes between 24 and 48 hours. Any positive test is rechecked at the main PHE laboratory in Colindale.
WHAT TREATMENT DO PATIENTS GET?
There is not much that doctors can do to fight the virus, but they can treat the symptoms – such as fever and breathing problems. Antivirals and antibiotics are also used, mainly to avoid secondary problems.
In the most severe cases, patients are put on life support equipment.
There are several clinical trials for potential treatments against coronaviruses in the world, including one in Nebraska, where at least 13 patients are in quarantine, including two in biological containment units.
WHAT ABOUT A VACCINE?
Even though the Wuhan virus only appeared a few weeks ago, 20 teams around the world are already manufacturing vaccines.
Chinese authorities provided the virus’s DNA code at the start of the epidemic, allowing scientists to get to work immediately.
In the United States, at least 30 companies and research institutes are racing to make a vaccine.
Last week, one of these companies, Moderna, shipped its candidate vaccine to the United States, signaling that the vaccine was ready to begin clinical trials.
However, US health officials say it will probably take more than a year before a vaccine is actually ready.