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What we know about the Coronavirus and what we don’t

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PARIS, FRANCE —
Researchers want to know everything about the latest coronavirus, from its mortality rate to its origins, incubation period and much more, and they still have blanks to fill in.

Mortality rate?

COVID-19, as the disease is known, is more lethal than the average seasonal flu, but less so than previous epidemics stemming from coronaviruses. We do not yet know its precise mortality rate.

World Health Organization data released Saturday identified 2,348 deaths from 76,392 confirmed cases in China, for a rough rate of 3.07 percent.

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC) published this week a study of 72,314 confirmed, clinically diagnosed or suspected cases as of Feb. 11.

According to the most extensive study done so far, the novel coronavirus was benign in 80.9 per cent of the cases, “serious” in 13.8 per cent and “critical” in 4.7 per cent.

The remaining 0.6 per cent was not specified.

According to the China CDC study, the mortality rate increased substantially with age, and those over 80 were most at risk with a rate of 14.8 per cent.

Patients who already suffered from cardiovascular diseases were also particularly at risk, ahead of diabetics and those who suffered from chronic respiratory diseases or hypertension.

Global estimates of the mortality rate are risky however because we do not know how many people have actually been infected.

Other strains of coronavirus, such as SARS and MERS, have established mortality rates of 9.5 per cent and 34.5 per cent, respectively.

How infectious is it?

Specialists generally agree that each person who falls ill with coronavirus will infect between two and three others on average.

That is a higher rate than a typical winter flu (1.3), lower than an infectious disease such as measles (more than 12), and comparable to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome or SARS (3) — the last major virus that broke out in China, in 2002-03.

Some experts warn however that we might be seriously underestimating the number of cases.

A study published Friday by the Imperial College Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis said: “We estimated that about two thirds of COVID-19 cases exported from mainland China have remained undetected worldwide, potentially resulting in multiple chains of as yet undetected human-to-human transmission outside mainland China.”

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus voiced concern on Friday about “the number of cases with no clear epidemiological link, such as travel history to China or contact with a confirmed case.”

Asymptomatic cases, where people show no symptoms, are another cause for concern.

The incubation period is estimated to be two to 10 days, and has led to experts to decide on a observation period of 14 days for suspected cases or for people who have been repatriated from areas such as China’s Hubei province, the epicentre of the outbreak.

How is it transmitted?

The virus is mainly transmitted by respiratory means and physical contact. Drops of saliva expelled when an infected person coughs is a common example, and researchers believe that generally occurs over a distance of around one metre at most.

Health advisories emphasize measures such as washing your hands often, coughing or sneezing into the crook of your elbow or a paper handkerchief, and wearing a mask if you know you have been infected.

A secondary means of transmission might be diarrhoea.

What are the symptoms and treatments?

WHO says: “Signs and symptoms include respiratory symptoms and include fever, cough and shortness of breath. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome and sometimes death.”

There are no vaccines or medications at present to fight COVID-19 so health officials can only treat the symptoms.

Some patients are given anti-viral medications, but their effectiveness has not been established so far.

Where did it come from?

The novel coronavirus is belived to have come from bats, but researchers think it might have spread to humans via another mammal species.

Chinese researchers suspect that might be the pangolin, a widely trafficked and endangered mammal.

The global scientific community deems that hypothesis plausible, but still awaits confirmation.

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Vaccination plus infection offered most protection during Delta surge, U.S. study shows – CBC News

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Protection against the previously-dominant Delta variant was highest among people who were both vaccinated and had survived a previous COVID-19 infection, according to a report published Wednesday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The report also found those who had previously been infected with COVID-19 were better protected against the Delta variant than those who were vaccinated alone, suggesting that natural immunity was a more potent shield than vaccines against that variant, California and New York health officials reported on Wednesday.

Protection against Delta was lowest among those who had never been infected or vaccinated, the CDC report continued.

“The evidence in this report does not change our vaccination recommendations,” Dr. Ben Silk of the CDC and one of the study’s authors told a media briefing.

“We know that vaccination is still the safest way to protect yourself against COVID-19,” he said.

The findings do not apply to the Omicron variant of the virus, which now accounts for 99.5 per cent of COVID-19 cases in the United States.

Study includes data from May to November

For the study, health officials in California and New York gathered data from May through November, which included the period when the Delta variant was dominant.

It showed that people who survived a previous infection had lower rates of COVID-19 than people who were vaccinated alone.

That represented a change from the period when the Alpha variant was dominant, Silk told the briefing.

“Before the Delta variant, COVID-19 vaccination resulted in better protection against a subsequent infection than surviving a previous infection,” he said.

In the summer and fall of 2021, however, when Delta became the predominant circulating iteration of the virus in the United States, “surviving a previous infection now provided greater protection against the subsequent infection than vaccination,” he said.

But acquiring immunity through natural infection carries significant risks. According to the study, by Nov. 30, 2021, roughly 130,781 residents of California and New York had died from COVID-19.

The analysis did not include information on the severity of initial infection, nor does it account for the full range of illness caused by prior infection.

One important limitation to the study was that it ended before administration of vaccine booster doses was widespread.

WATCH | Experts agree the science behind booster shots is sound:

The safe science behind COVID-19 booster shots

5 days ago

Duration 1:55

While some Canadians who have received their booster shots have later tested positive for COVID-19, medical experts agree that the science behind booster jabs is sound. 1:55

‘Clearly shows’ vaccines provide safest protection

Dr. Erica Pan, state epidemiologist for the California Department of Public Health, said in an email that the study “clearly shows” that vaccines provide the safest protection against COVID-19 and they offer added protection for those with prior infections.

“Outside of this study, recent data on the highly contagious Omicron variant shows that getting a booster provides significant additional protection against infection, hospitalization and death,” Pan said.

Silk said the CDC is studying the impact of vaccination, boosters and prior infection during the Omicron surge and expects to issue further reports when that data becomes available.

So far, Omicron has proven to evade some level of immunity from both vaccination and previous infection, but vaccines are still largely preventing serious illness and death.

An Israeli hospital on Monday also said preliminary research indicates a fourth dose of leading mRNA-based vaccines provides only limited defence against infection from the variant.

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COVID-19: Go-Vaxx mobile vaccination clinic to return to Haliburton County with 3 stops – Globalnews.ca

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Ontario’s GO-VAXX mobile vaccination clinic is making three stops in Haliburton County in the coming weeks, the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit announced Wednesday.

The retrofitted GO bus will provide first, second and boosters doses of COVID-19 vaccinations to any eligible residents, including doses for children ages 5-11. Moderna will be provided to individuals 30 and older, unless they have a documented allergy to Moderna.

Read more:

Pfizer’s Paxlovid pill not a replacement for COVID-19 vaccine, officials say

All appointments must be booked in advance through the Provincial Booking System or by calling the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900. Appointments can be booked starting at 8 a.m. the day before the clinic.

Clinics will run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.:

  • Saturday, Jan. 29 : A.J. LaRue Arena, 728 Mountain St., in Haliburton
  • Saturday, Feb. 5: Lloyd Watson Community Centre, 2249 Loop Rd., in Wilberforce
  • Saturday Feb. 12: A.J. LaRue Arena in Haliburton

“Being fully vaccinated with a booster dose has proven to be effective in preventing severe illness and hospitalization against the Omicron variant,” said Doreen Boville, health promoter with the health unit. “To ensure anyone needing a vaccine can get one, appointments are necessary for a smooth rollout.”

Individuals are asked to bring their Ontario health card. If you do not have a health card or your health card is expired, bring another form of government photo ID such as a driver’s license, passport, Status card, or birth certificate.

The health unit has appointments available at COVID-19 vaccination clinics being held throughout the region. A list of dates and times is available on the health unit’s www.hkpr.on.ca. Residents are also encouraged to check with local pharmacies or their primary health care providers for more opportunities to get vaccinated.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the health unit reported 822 active cases within its jurisdiction including 35 in Haliburton County.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Prior COVID-19 infection offered protection against Delta variant, but vaccines still best shield against the virus, study says – The Globe and Mail

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People who had previously been infected with COVID-19 were better protected against the Delta variant than those who were vaccinated alone, suggesting that natural immunity was a more potent shield than vaccines against that variant, California and New York health officials reported on Wednesday.

Protection against Delta was highest, however, among people who were both vaccinated and had survived a previous COVID infection, and lowest among those who had never been infected or vaccinated, the study found.

Nevertheless, vaccination remains the safest strategy against COVID-19, according to the report published in U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The results do not apply to the Omicron variant of the virus, which now accounts for 99.5 per cent of COVID-19 cases in the United States.

“The evidence in this report does not change our vaccination recommendations,” Dr. Ben Silk of the CDC and one of the study’s authors told a media briefing.

“We know that vaccination is still the safest way to protect yourself against COVID-19,” he said.

For the study, health officials in California and New York gathered data from May through November, which included the period when the Delta variant was dominant.

It showed that people who survived a previous infection had lower rates of COVID-19 than people who were vaccinated alone.

That represented a change from the period when the Alpha variant was dominant, Silk told the briefing.

“Before the Delta variant, COVID-19 vaccination resulted in better protection against a subsequent infection than surviving a previous infection,” he said.

In the summer and fall of 2021, however, when Delta became the predominant circulating iteration of the virus in the United States, “surviving a previous infection now provided greater protection against the subsequent infection than vaccination,” he said.

But acquiring immunity through natural infection carries significant risks. According to the study, by November 30, 2021, roughly 130,781 residents of California and New York had died from COVID-19.

The analysis did not include information on the severity of initial infection, nor does it account for the full range of illness caused by prior infection.

One important limitation to the study was that it ended before administration of vaccine booster doses was widespread.

Dr. Erica Pan, state epidemiologist for the California Department of Public Health, said in an email that the study “clearly shows” that vaccines provide the safest protection against COVID-19 and they offer added protection for those with prior infections.

“Outside of this study, recent data on the highly contagious Omicron variant shows that getting a booster provides significant additional protection against infection, hospitalization and death,” Pan said.

Silk said the CDC is studying the impact of vaccination, boosters and prior infection during the Omicron surge and expects to issue further reports when that data becomes available.

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