Dit wil voorkom of daar nou verskillende soorte mutasies is met die virus as daar na verskillende inligtingstukke van nader bekyk word. Die redes ook hoekom Italie as voorbeeld meer sterfgevalle het as ander lande of ander lande het soms beter reaksies op behandelings. “Die moontlikheid dat dit “beheer of gemanipuleer” word in sekere gebiede in sekere kontinente/lande, kan ook nie uitgesluit word nie. Dis nie “conspiracies” nie. Dis net waarneembaar dat sommige lande wat goeie hospitale het soveel siekes het of sterftes en ander nie. Dit kom baie verdag voor.
Photo: World Health Organization (WHO) Health Emergencies Program Director Michael Ryan, left, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, second from left, and WHO Technical Lead Maria Van Kerkhove attend a daily press briefing. AP-Yonhap
Q – Conspiracy theories and misinformation on this newly discovered coronavirus keep emerging and many stories have already been debunked. These are a few examples.
Right-wing groups believe China intentionally made the virus to unleash it on the rest of the world, seeking economic dominance and supremacy; except it prematurely released it on its own soil and failed to contain it.
Avid science-fiction followers believe the SARS-CoV2 virus escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which happens to be several kilometers from the now infamous Huanan seafood market in Wuhan, China. The virus must have felt that the wet market was a better place to hang out than a highly secure research laboratory, with all the comforts it offers.
More recently, U.S. President Trump said the virus would die once the weather warms up. Then his chief of staff added that the coronavirus was the hoax of the day; rallying the President’s supporters to speculate that the virus was a hoax created by the opposition to hurt him in the coming presidential elections.
Scanning social media revealed even more intriguing theories, confirming that the human mind can be very creative, for some people, who could easily become the new Agatha Christie of their generation.
Even the World Health Organization (WHO) decided to combat misinformation, asking for help from Google and Facebook. These two combined giants of information could not even stop political misinformation; how could they stop misinformation about a virus?
The most damaging conspiracy theory is that cats and dogs, our beloved furry companions, have the SARS-CoV2 virus and can infect their owners, leading some barbaric individuals in China, Hong Kong and other Asian countries to drop these poor animals to their deaths from high-rise buildings, poison them, starve them and, in a few what may be termed “slightly-more-humane” cases, abandon them on the streets.
Even at the verge of adversity, when our best weapon should be compassion, some people remain cruel to these innocent animals with no voices and no one to protect them; their actions merely a response to propaganda and misinformation on social media.
All the misinformation trails seem to be fueled by China’s censorship of information to educate the world on this crisis, with some crossing into the WHO’s rhetoric. What is China hiding? Authoritarian regimes thrive on controlling the message, but how about the WHO?
Some important dates to remember:
Dec. 30, 2019 ― The brave ophthalmologist Dr. Li Wenliang raises the alarm about a possible outbreak in Wuhan of an illness that resembled SARS.
Dec. 30, 2019 ― The WHO’s regional office apparently is made aware of an unknown virus causing several pneumonia-like symptoms in Wuhan on the very same day ― a coincidence?
Jan. 3, 2020 – The intimidation and censorship protocols, to control the message, are activated by Chinese authorities, with accusations cast of “making false comments” and having “severely disturbed the social order” as a warning to other doctors, scientists, and healthcare workers to keep quiet.
Jan. 7, 2020 ― The Chinese authorities confirm the identity of the new virus as a coronavirus similar to SARS-CoV.
Jan. 11, 2020 ― The Chinese authorities announce the first death from COVID-19 ― a 61-year-old man from Wuhan, who apparently visited the Huanan seafood market.
Jan. 29, 2020 ― WHO’s director general meets China’s president, who comments that “WHO experts visited Wuhan in central China where the virus first broke out.” The public is not aware of any such visit.
Feb. 7, 2020 ― Dr Li, 34, dies after becoming infected with the SARS-CoV2 virus.
Feb. 9, 2020 ― An advance team heads to China to investigate the SARS-CoV2 crisis as part of a WHO-China joint mission.
Feb. 28, 2020 ― The report of the WHO-China joint mission is released to the public.
The much-anticipated report appears to have been written on cue for the message, and it must have been read and approved by the WHO leadership for its public release. If this is the case, it provides some concerns about the independence, transparency and expertise of this organization.
We had hoped for this joint mission to provide new information and shed some light on the outbreak in China, to help us prepare for the virus’ evolution, understand its modes of transmission, and how to update healthcare protocols in real time as it is spreading from one country to the next at an alarming rate.
The epidemiological curves and the reported routes of transmission, for the same coronavirus originating in China, do not explain the trends we are observing in South Korea, Italy, Iran, and the rest of the world. Household transmission, as an example, cannot be a major route, otherwise the number of confirmed cases in China would have been in the millions and not thousands.
A more cryptic mode of transmission is emerging on the West Coast of continental USA, with experts believing that an outbreak may already be in progress in Washington State, with confirmed cases not connected to direct travel to China.
Another serious case in Davis, California, is puzzling doctors who are trying to figure out where a particular patient could have contracted the SARS-CoV2 virus; the patient has neither traveled to China nor been in close contact with anybody who had recently been to China or any other affected areas.
In China, the first clinically diagnosed case was on Dec. 2, 2019, with the first confirmed case on Dec. 8 in Wuhan; but the Chinese government only announced the first death on Jan. 11. In view of the SARS-CoV2 high contagion rate, there is an unexplained lag on the part of the Chinese government with hardly any reported cases or deaths. We ought to have seen an upward curve in the earlier weeks of December of newly infected patients.
COVID-19 is the disease caused by the SARS-CoV2 virus, according to WHO’s own definition. However, the authors of the report kept referring to COVID-19 as both the virus and the disease. In one case, COVID-19 is redefined as a zoonotic virus, and in another, it is a newly identified pathogen.
Although WHO’s own head of the emerging diseases and zoonoses unit was an integral member of this expedition, it is regrettable and unfortunate that such unavoidable mistakes could happen, at a time when WHO is seemingly fighting misinformation.
The report confirms that the outbreak could not have started at the Huanan seafood market. A critical missing piece is, however, detailed information on patient zero and the sequence of the virus from this patient; without this information at hand, frankly, the utility of this write-up when we are at the verge of a potential global pandemic is not that helpful. Some of the information in the report was already known to the public.
The Chinese government stated that the first fatality was a 61-year-old man from Wuhan and the WHO report describes an autopsy performed on a 50-year-old man also from Wuhan. It is not clear if this could be the same patient as no additional information was provided on both. Could one of them be patient zero?
The WHO-China joint mission could have begun as early as December 2019. This “cryptic killer” has already travelled the world. It is now out there in our communities and that means everybody is at a risk of being infected. The world expects the highest standards, but WHO has let the world down. No time for praise, rather a call for resignations.
For an organization, seemingly fighting misinformation, WHO seems like it is also fueling it ― releasing an incomplete report that is raising more questions than providing answers, and begging the question on China’s secrecy and WHO’s mission.
With the timely release of this report and on its message nonetheless, a new narrative is calling for the world to give China credit for its containment efforts, adding that the world should judge China with more common sense and less ideology. Well, common sense dictates that if you break it, fix it.
China has in a way unleashed a “cryptic virus” on humanity, allowed infected Chinese citizens to freely travel the world, threatened whistleblowers, deported foreign journalists, censored the flow of information and failed to warn us on time; all of these measures were for the sole purpose of controlling the message and protecting China.
In the year of the Rat, the late Dr. Li’s words, “If the officials had disclosed information about the epidemic earlier, I think it would have been a lot better,” sums up China’s gift to the world.
Dr. Hakim Djaballah is an Algerian-born American molecular pharmacologist and technologist with expertise in virology and oncology. Dr. Djaballah is a thought leader on drug discovery and development and sits on several advisory boards. He is the co-founder, president and CEO of Keren Therapeutics, a startup company dedicated to the science of aging. Formerly, Dr. Djaballah was the CEO of the Pasteur Institute in Korea, a transnational research institute with a focus on infectious diseases and oncology. Prior to his move to South Korea, Dr. Djaballah was affiliated with the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in New York, USA. MSKCC is the oldest cancer treatment and research institution, founded in 1884. Dr. Djaballah holds a BSc degree from the University of Birmingham (England) and a doctorate degree from the University of Leicester (England). To date, Dr. Djaballah has published more than 96 articles, book chapters, and reviews. He is an inventor on several patents, a founder of two biotechnology companies, and the recipient of the 2007 Robots and Vision User Recognition Award.
Latest coronavirus research by a team of researchers from Nankai University in Tianjin lead by Professor Ruan Jishou, a prominent virologists and genomicist have discovered that the new SARS-Cov-2 coronavirus that causes the Covid-19 disease has a mutated gene that is found in HIV virus. It is this unique feature that sets it aside from the rest of the known coronaviruses.
The study is published this week on Chinaxiv.org, a platform used by the Chinese Academy of Sciences to release scientific research papers before they have been peer-reviewed .( http://www.chinaxiv.org/abs/202002.00082)
These findings have huge implications on the potency of the coronavirus and also what it can cause in humans, not just the Covid-19 disease. Furthermore, the Covid-19 disease should never be compared to like the common cold or influenza virus as this new coronavirus is in a separate league of its own.
Though it has not been peer reviewed, two other studies including one in Europe has confirmed the findings.
The combined findings from the three studies indicates that because of the HIV-like mutations, its ability to bind with human cells could be as much as 1,000 times more potent that the initial SARS virus of 2003.
The findings also indicate that the new SARS-CoV-2 has a ‘dual attack’ approach of binding to human cells.
The first is via the ACE2 receptors found on human cell membranes and it’s a typical mode of most coronaviruses. (The new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus has a plus 80 percent genomic matching to the previous SARS virus, hence it explains this property that it possesses)
However it must be noted that the ACE2 protein does not occur in large quantities in healthy people, and this partly helped to limit the scale of the SARS outbreak of 2002/2003 which infected close to 8,000 people globally.
As the findings of the new study indicates that the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus has a mutated gene similarly found on the HIV virus, it is also able to attack human cells via the target called furin, which is an enzyme that works as a protein activator in the human body. Typically many proteins are inactive or dormant when they are produced and have to be “cut” at specific points to activate their various functions which furin does in the human cellular pathways.
Professor Ruan Jishou and his team at Nankai University in Tianjin discovered this new property of the SARS-CoV-2 when they were doing genome sequencing of the new coronavirus found a section of mutated genes that did not exist in the original SARS virus, but were similar to those found in HIV.
Professor Ruan Jishou told Thailand Medical News via a phone interview, “This finding suggests that 2019-nCoV coronavirus may be significantly different from the SARS coronavirus in the infection pathway and has the added potency of using the packing mechanisms of other viruses such as HIV.”
The findings of the study reveal that the mutation can generate a structure known as a cleavage site in the new coronavirus’ spike protein.
Typically, a virus uses the outreaching spike protein to hook on to the host cell, but normally this protein is inactive. The cleavage site structure’s role is to trick the human furin protein, so it will cut and activate the spike protein and cause a “direct fusion” of the viral and cellular membranes.
The result findings show that when compared to the initial SARs mode of entry, this binding method is more than a 1,000 times efficient.
Another research conducted also this month, by Professor Li Hua , another prominent virologist and genetic specialists, and his team from Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, Hubei province, also confirmed Professor Ruan’s findings. http://www.chinaxiv.org/abs/202002.00062
The study indicated that the HIV-like gene found on the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus was not detected on any of the other coronaviruses including the MERS, original SARS and even the Bat-CoVRaTG13, a bat coronavirus that was considered the original source of the new coronavirus with 96 per cent similarity in genes.
Professor Li told Thailand Medical News,” This is maybe why the SARS-CoV-2 is more infectious than the other known coronaviruses.”
A European a study by French scientist professor Dr Etienne Decroly at Aix-Marseille University in France, which was published in the scientific journal Antiviral Research , also found a “furin-like cleavage site” that is absent in similar coronaviruses, thus confirming the initial findings as well. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/32057769)
The new findings is bringing scientists and researchers towards understanding how the new coronavirus behaves and how it makes us ill plus helps in developing treatment protocols. Experts’ perception of the new coronavirus has changed dramatically over the past few weeks.
The link to the furin enzyme could shed light on the coronavirus’ evolutionary history before it made the jump to humans. The mutation, which Professor Ruan’s team terms as an “unexpected insertion”, could come from many possible sources such as a coronavirus found in rats or even a species of avian flu.
Initially, the new coronavirus was not considered a major threat, with the Chinese Centres for Disease Control and Prevention saying there was no evidence off human-to-human transmission. But this was later invalidated. Then it was said that it was not airborne, this too has become invalidated. Also came expert claims that the virus only had a 14 day incubation period and that it could only survive on surfaces for a few hours, all this have become invalidated.
As of today, Saturday 29 February 2020 we have almost close 90,000 infected cases worldwide, almost 3,000 deaths and more than a million suspected cases in a time span of about 9 weeks since the coronavirus was first detected.
Thailand Medical has been carefully studying and monitoring reports on various genomic sequencing studies to monitor the mutations of the coronavirus and almost all are proving that while the coronavirus is evolving with certain codon changes (no genetic or genomic expert knows what is these significance of these minute codon changes taking place as it passes from human to human, but we can safely assume that the virus is learning and adapting smartly).
However no major mutations have taken place as in the case of most typical coronaviruses when they replicate and lead to their inefficiency and eventual demise as in the case of the original SARS, these new coronavirus is extremely stable in transmissions and replications and is in fact becoming more virulent, indicating we are dealing with a strain that is going to be with us for a longtime.
It is also important for all experts to note that the coronavirus has a 96 percent match to the Bat-CoVRaTG13 coronavirus versus an approximate 82 per cent match to the original SARS coronavirus. Shifting a focus from the original SARS coronavirus which many experts tend to focus on when making doing studies and comparisons to instead the Bat-CoVRaTG13 coronavirus might also reveal more details about the new SARS-CoV-2 as these bat viruses have evolved over time and possess many unique properties that we have yet to understand.
The fact that reinfections are emerging and that we still do not know what latent viral loads in the body can do to us in the short term, midterm or long term as we have only been exposed to the new virus in the last 9 weeks or so makes it even more frightening.
One virologist from UK who says he wanted to remain anonymous as he might be accused of causing panic or misinformation warned that the new coronavirus can be described in basic terms as a “slow airborne killer that will never let its victim off, even if it loses the battle the first time”,implying that even in those so called recovered , they might face reinfections or that the existing viral loads in the body will eventually cause some other new chronic disease.
For the latest coronavirus research developments, keep checking at : https://www.thailandmedical.news/articles/coronavirus
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The coronavirus has mutated, and it won’t be the last time
Lessons learned from Dr. Djaballah about the COVID-19, caused by the SAR-CoV2 virus, can be summed up in several notes. Check out the video interview with Dr. Djaballah for more in depth.