On March 18, the cover of the authoritative journal Nature combed through the new coronavirus event, through five pictures, from the spread of the virus, the number of published papers, mortality, etc., revealed the global impact of the outbreak of the new coronal outbreak.
How did the new coronavirus spread around the world?
At the end of 2019, the new coronavirus began to erupt in Wuhan, the largest city in central China, as the Chinese New Year approached, the virus spread to other provinces and cities with large-scale population movements, peaking in late January and early February.
Since then, new confirmed cases in China have fallen sharply, thanks in large part to its aggressive vaccination efforts. But there are now more than 150 new crown confirmed cases, the outbreak has become a global pandemic, including South Korea, Iran, Italy and other regions have become the hardest-hit areas.
The total number of confirmed cases outside China now exceeds the number of confirmed cases in China. On March 13th Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, said that Europe had become the centre of a pandemic.
COVID-19 deaths are low compared to other major outbreaks
Current assessments of COVID-19 (new coronary pneumonia) mortality (the proportion of deaths from new coronary pneumonia) indicate that the mortality rate from the new coronavirus is much lower than that of other large-scale outbreaks, such as SARS, MERS (MERS) and Ebola virus.
Specifically, the mortality rate for SARS is 10 per cent, the MORTALity rate for MERS is 30-40 per cent, and the mortality rate for Ebola virus is as high as 50 per cent. By contrast, the coVID-19 mortality rate is less than 5 per cent.
But the new coronavirus is more contagious. Based on calculations, the basic number of infections, R0 (the average number of people infected with the disease to whom, the larger the R0 number, the harder it is to control the epidemic) is 2 to 2.5.
As of March 12, about 900 papers related to coronaviruses have been published.
The outbreak has led to extensive research into coronaviruses and the diseases they cause. To estimate the scale of the research, Nature searched the terms “new coronavirus”, “ncov”, “covid19” and “SARS-CoV-2” on the bioRxiv, medRxiv, ChemRxiv and ChinaXiv servers. And compiled the World Health Organization and Google scholars listed publications. As of March 12, there were about 900 papers, preprints and preliminary reports on coronaviruses.
The studies cover a range of topics, including the structure of the virus, how it spreads in different communities, the clinical characteristics of neo-coronary pneumonia, potential drug targets, the effectiveness of quarantine measures, and the psychological impact of the outbreak on health workers. At least 20 articles published in preprinted copies early in the outbreak have been published in peer-reviewed journals.
The researchers also shared genomic data about the virus through online platforms such as GISAID and GenBank, and several potential vaccines or treatments are currently undergoing clinical trials.
It is worth noting that the statistics in the journal Nature do not include these reports or data, nor do they include studies published in languages other than English (such as those published in Chinese journals). As a result, the number of real papers may be much higher than 900.
Nitrogen dioxide levels drop sharply in China’s atmosphere during outbreak prevention and control
Air pollution in China has been effectively improved during the epidemic prevention and control period. Satellite data collected by NASA and the European Space Agency show a sharp drop in atmospheric nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels during the burning of fossil fuels across the country.
Every year, with the arrival of the Spring Festival holiday, industrial activity decreased, generally leading to a brief decline in nitrogen dioxide levels. “Normally, pollution levels pick up after 7-10 days of the Start of the Spring Festival holiday, but that hasn’t happened this year,” said an atmospheric scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Preliminary analysis shows that nitrogen dioxide pollution in China after the Spring Festival this year has dropped by about 10-30% compared with the same period last year.
Data from the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-5P satellite, after the closure of the city in northern Italy, showed a similar downward trend in nitrogen dioxide pollution.
China’s coal consumption hit a four-year low in February and refining fell by more than a third during the new corona outbreak, according to an analysis by the Helsinki Centre for Energy and Clean Air Research. Overall, the center’s analysis shows that China’s carbon emissions have fallen by more than 25 percent as a result of aggressive efforts to contain the coronavirus.
Comparison of COVID-19 with SARS
From the beginning, COVID-19 has been compared to SARS, which erupted in 2002-03, and there are many similarities. First, they all belong to the coronavirus family; second, they were the first to break out in China; finally, SARS is thought to be transmitted from bats to beavers and then from beavers to humans, and COVID-19 is also thought to be passed from bats to humans through some intermediate hosts.
Nevertheless, there are significant differences between the two outbreaks, especially the speed and scope of transmission.
Compared with the lag of SARS, China is responding faster and more timely in the face of the new corona outbreak. Three weeks after the first case was confirmed, China reported to WHO a surge in cases of pneumonia-like disease. After two weeks, the new coronavirus strain was isolated and the gene sequenced, and a diagnostic reagent was developed quickly, providing a powerful tool for rapid screening of confirmed cases and slowing the spread of the epidemic.
Although COVID-19 has a less lethal rate than SARS, it is more contagious and spread more widely. Less than two months after the first case was detected, the number of COVID-19 confirmed exceeds the total number of SARS. At present, the cumulative confirmed cases in China exceed SARS ten times.
However, after more than 40 days of hard work, the current situation of domestic epidemic prevention and control gradually improved, the number of existing confirmed cases is less than 7,500.