With the first case of COVID-19 now confirmed in Ireland it's important to stay abreast of the latest developments.
Let's start with some statistics.
It is widely reported that the incubation period for SARS-CoV-2 is between 2 to 14 days, however there are also reports of up to 24 days or more before the symptoms develop. The average incubation period appears to be less than 7 days and in some cases as little as 24 hours.
Coupled with suspected asymptomatic transmission this makes the virus very difficult to stop.
R0 (reproduction number)
The R0 number indicates how transmissible a virus is, i.e. how many people get infected from a single carrier. Because this is a brand new strain of the virus there is no herd immunity in the population and it can spread very rapidly.
Current best estimates place it between 1.4 and 6.49 with the average of 3.28 and a median of 2.79. WHO's R0 estimate is 1.4–2.5.
If an infected person takes part in a massive public gathering or visits a healthcare facility, school or creche, this number can easily grow far beyond just three new cases per infected individual.
Anything above 1 is bad as it means the spread will continue to grow, less than 1 means it will slow down.
Mortality rate of COVID-19 is estimated between 0.4% and 3%, compared to 0.05% for seasonal flu epidemic, which is at least 8x worse at best and potentially as bad as 60x worse.
Males appear to be roughly twice as likely to die from complications than females.
WHO released a mortality rate figure of 3.4% but stressed that this is the global average including the Hubei province in China that was hardest hit and where healthcare facilities were unable to cope, which resulted in a significantly higher mortality rate than elsewhere. - NEW 5th March 2020
Rate of compilations
The regular flu has a rate of compilations requiring hospitalisation of about 0.9% of patients compared to 19% for COVID-19, with 5% being critical.
Up to 50% of critical patients die even with the best treatment readily available.
|19th April 2020||South Korea*||D. Princess**||Italy***||US#||Spain****|
|Critical rate (active)||2.31%||12.73%||2.43%||2.08%||7.31%|
* Best quality data (most people tested)
** Older population on average (Diamond Princess cruise ship)
*** Worst outbreak in Europe
**** Biggest outbreak in Europe
# Biggest outbreak in the world
Test kit sensitivity
RT-PCR test kits which are widely used for confirming COVID-19 infections have been shown to be only around 70% sensitive, meaning that 30% of infected cases are not detected with this testing method. It can also take up to 2-3 days to receive the results because this is a fairly complicated and slow test.
A more reliable and faster method is a chest CT scan, where the presence of ground glass opacity has been shown to have 98% sensitivity for COVID-19 disease.
Some encouraging news emerging from research into chloroquine's effects on COVID-19. The hypothesis is that it acts as an ionophore (substance that transports particular ions across a lipid membrane in a cell) for Zn2+ ions, which in turn hinder the action of virus' RNA polimerase, impeding it's replication.
Recommended dose of chloroquine phosphate is 500mg twice per day for 10 days. Additional Zinc supplementation may improve the results somewhat, but Zinc on its own will not help as it cannot enter intracellular space without the help of chloroquine.
- Zn2+ Inhibits Coronavirus and Arterivirus RNA Polymerase Activity In Vitro and Zinc Ionophores Block the Replication of These Viruses in Cell Culture
- Expert consensus on chloroquine phosphate for the treatment of novel coronavirus pneumonia.
Please share your experience in the comments below and on our dedicated forum thread as to how you are preparing to deal with this outbreak. Are you facing shortages of any supplies (face masks or hand sanitiser gels) or medicines? How are you protecting yourself from infection?
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- COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Updates from the Department of Health (gov.ie)
- COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Advice (HSE)
- COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Advice (PSI)
- COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Updates from World Health Organization (WHO)
- COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Updates from European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC)
- COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Updates from Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC)
- Department of Foreign Affairs (Travel Information - Italy) - NEW 4th March 2020
- Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Page (Medscape) - NEW 14th April 2020
- Coronavirus Resource Center (Harvard Medical School) - NEW 20th April 2020
- Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Case Map (Johns Hopkins CSSE)
- COVID-19 CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK (Worldometer)
- Updated COVID-19 statistics and analysis (nucleuswealth.com)
- Nextstrain (Real-time tracking of pathogen evolution) - NEW 4th March 2020
Social media channels:
- MedCram - Medical Lectures Explained CLEARLY (YouTube)
- Dr. John Campbell (YouTube) - NEW 6th march 2020
- HSE Live (Twitter)
- HPSC (Twitter)