Friday, December 4News For London

What could we know, from SARS to COVID-19?

The panic of COVID-19

       In December 2019, Wuhan, the scenic city of Hubei Province, reported several unknown respiratory epidemics. Merely one month later, the situation was out of control. On January 23, the eve of the Chinese traditional New Year, the Chinese government announced the closure of Wuhan, Hubei Province, all public transportation in Wuhan ceased operation. During this reunion festival, Chinese society had given up plans to travel, visit relatives, stayed at home for self-isolation. In February 2020, WHO named the new coronavirus, which was 80 percent similar to SARS, as COVID-19.

       Now the world is in the panic of COVID-19. Ordinary people’s daily life was affected. Although at the end of February, the spread of COVID-19 in mainland China had slowed, due to the closure of the city and other strict social distance measures. At early March COVID-19 had sadly spread to the world, more than 190 countries had been affected. The epidemic situation in South Korea, Japan, Italy, Spain, the United States, the United Kingdom, and other countries had become severe. Latterly, the World Health Organization(WHO) declared COVID-19 as a global pandemic. The governments had to force Blockade strategies of varying degrees restricted the spread of the new coronavirus. Factories shuttered down, restaurants and hotels closed, and schools and the university suspended. The global economy had been hard hit. The US stock market had encountered four meltdowns, according to The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), the UK economy may suffer a 35% decline in the next quarter. The tourism and aviation industries had been stagnant.

       Although people across the world had paid a painful price for slowing down the spread of the coronavirus and then eliminating it, the future development of coronavirus wouldn’t be optimistic. Many infectious disease scientists, for example, Wenhong Zhang, the head of the New Coronary Pneumonia Medical Treatment Expert Group of Shanghai, predicted: It is impossible to eliminate the COVID-19 virus in the summer of 2020 completely. In winter, there might be a second peak infection period.      Why did COVID-19 develop step by step into a global disaster? Did humans learn from similar accidents last time? If we implemented strict measures at an earlier stage, could we save more lives? According to research paper of academician Nanshan Zhong’s team “Modified seir and AI prediction of the trend of the epidemic of COVID-19 in china under public health interventions”: based on the model, if Chinese society took closure measures five days earlier, which means that the lockdown of Wuhan announced on January 18, the number of infected would be reduced by two thirds.

SARS in 2003

       The full name of SARS is severe acute respiratory syndrome. SARS first broke out in Guangdong Province, China. Based on the later research, the natural host of the SARS virus is the horseshoe bat. The first case occurred in November 2002. A chef Xingchu Huang (who is believed to be SARS No. 0 patient), was accidentally infected SARS virus when he handled the body of the civet cat. Mr. Huang experienced persistent high fever, severe coughing, and difficulty in breathing. Progressing to February 2003, Guangdong Province reported many similar cases. An imported case was a patient from Shanxi Province who had transformed to Beijing 301 Hospital for treatment, then the medical staff caring for her were infected. Subsequently, Beijing became the severely affected area of SARS. In the worst situation, Peking University People’s Hospital closed since many of the medical staff infected with SARS.

       SARS ultimately reported 8,098 cases and caused 774 deaths. According to official WHO reports, the SARS virus contained in June 2003. Although the lethal rate of SARS cases is higher than that of COVID-19, the spread of SARS is much lower than that of COVID-19. Both SARS and COVID-19 caused by a coronavirus. Their pathogens belong to different branches of the coronavirus family. In the early stage of the outbreak, the general public believed that the virus broke out in the Wuhan southern seafood market, the coronavirus came from wild animals such as pangolins. With the deepening of research, infectious disease scientists have overturned this conclusion. By now, the source of the virus of COVID-19 is still unclear.

SARS sequelae

       COVID-19 and SARS also broke out in winter. In June of 2003, Beijing released from the closure policy. Although many SARS patients escaped death, there was no wonder drug for SARS during the treatment period. Due to the usage of large doses of hormones, many SARS rehabilitated patients suffered from femoral head necrosis, which is a severe disease called “undead cancer.” According to a questionnaire investigation, 70 percent of the rehabilitated patient suffered from femoral head necrosis. In Beijing, more than 300 people officially recognized as patients with SARS sequelae and more than 50 percent of medical workers. Bo Fang, a typical patient with SARS sequelae, said in an interview with China Central Television:

 In Fang Bo’s extended family, nine people infected with SARS. Bo Fang’s sister and wife died, unfortunately. Five people included Bo Fang’s two sisters, suffered from SARS sequelae. Bo Fang himself suffered from severe depression as well. When winter came, and the temperature dropped suddenly, his joints would be painful. One time he couldn’t bear it. He used a wine bottle to hit his head to relieve the pain.

Bo Fang, at home.

       SARS caused not only severe physical sequelae but also caused permanent trauma to the victim’s mind. Many patients lose their ability to work after recovery; a considerable number of the family broke down; life went on a distinct path. Although some reports suggest that most patients are mildly infected, and the risk of young people is less than older people. Adolescents cannot relax their vigilance and must seriously isolate themselves and maintain social distance. After all, there are special effects medicines, and the vaccines are being developed in this stage. Nevertheless, humans have little knowledge about this new respiratory infectious disease. We do not know if a similar thing would happen to the COVID-19 rehabilitators.