Thursday February 13, 2020
Research at the Covid-19 pathogen is underway at the Berlin Charité. And there are new insights: Unlike the related Sars pathogen, the coronavirus probably does not spread from lung to lung – but via the throat.
The President of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Lothar Wieler, has shown confidence in the containment of the Covid 19 pathogen in Europe. Wieler said that the phase in which the spread of the Sars-CoV-2 coronavirus should be curtailed is currently in all nine European countries affected. So far, this has been possible. Therefore, there is “enough optimism” that this will continue to succeed – “but of course we cannot promise that”.
According to Wieler, the mortality rate for people suffering from coronavirus is 2.2 percent in China and 0.2 percent for all those living abroad. As Christian Drosten, Director of Virology at the Berlin Charité, said, the mortality rate of 0.2 percent is in the area of typical flu pandemics, such as those that occurred in 1957 and 1968.
Drosten explained the significantly higher mortality rate in China in the expert discussion at the National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina with the overloading of the statistical collection there. There is a “completely wrong assessment of the numbers”, which would primarily reflect the capacity of the reporting system. The lower mortality is the more realistic number.
New virus behaves differently than Sars pathogens
According to Drosten, Charité researchers are working flat out to better understand the novel corona virus. Current findings indicate that the corona virus behaves differently than the Sars infection in the early 2000s. Sars had spread from lung to lung. The new Sars-CoV-2 virus, on the other hand, appears to spread from throat to throat in a similar way to conventional influenza.
Drosten said that intensive research is still required. The experts are “still quite far away” from the development of vaccines or drugs. Even the assessment that a vaccine can be used in a year and a half is optimistic.
If there is a wave of infection from the corona virus in Germany, it will be difficult to maintain normal care for the sick, said the Charité director. “Doctors’ offices will be full, other patients will have to wait.” In this respect, it is important that everyone deals with the disease and with what is known about it. For example, it is known that children are almost unaffected and pregnant women are almost unaffected, but that older people are a particular risk group – and that men are particularly often affected.