Beijing - The new coronavirus (2019-nCoV) can spread rapidly in the general population. According to report by the Chinese health authorities in the New England Journal of Medicine (2020;), human-to-human transmissions occurred in Wuhan even before the seafood market was closed.
The first 425 patients who one sufferer from "NCIP", one caused by 2019-nCoV pneumonia, were on average 59 years old and 56% male. The fact that it was predominantly men who fell ill, whose proportion of the first patients was still 2/3, did not continue.
The average age of the patients has increased slightly since the beginning of January from 56 to 61 years. 2019-nCoV has spread rapidly and exponentially. Yang gives the incubation time as 5.2 days (95% confidence interval 4.1 to 7.0 days): 12.5 days after infection, 95% of the patients were symptomatic. The Chinese researchers identified 5 clusters in which the virus caused disease in the next person within 3 to 9 days.
The mean series interval was 7.5 days (5.3 to 19 days ). Yang estimates the base reproduction number R0 to be 2.2 (1.4 to 3.9). For SARS, R0 was around 3. The dynamics of the epidemic would therefore be comparable to the spread of the SARS-CoV, which also occurred in China in 2002, which spread over several continents within few months, but could then be stopped.
The genetic examination of the virus had shown in the last few days that 2019-nCoV differs significantly from SARS-CoV. In the spike protein, with which the virus binds to the epithelial cells, there is great deal of agreement.
It remains to be seen whether 2019-nCoV, similar to SARS-CoV, can still be stopped. The number of newly recognized diseases in Wuhan is falling after summit on January 8, according to the publication. To what extent this is due to the quicker diagnosis and the quicker hospitalization and isolation of the patients cannot yet be assessed, according to Yang.
It is important that patients seek medical treatment as soon as symptoms appear. This period has been reduced slightly from 5.8 to 4.6 days. The doctors react faster, however. The interval from the onset of symptoms to hospitalization was shortened from 12.5 to 9.1 days.
How far the virus has spread in the population will only be revealed when an antibody test is available. So far there is only one PCR test for the detection of an active infection. Serological studies will later show how many people who never fell ill had contact with the virus.