Is China Lying? 3,466 Individuals Have Recovered From Coronavirus! What Defines Recovered Or Being Cured?
China health authorities have reported that so far about 3,466 individuals have recovered from the 2019-nCoV coronavirus.
Certain other countries that had cases of infected individuals have also said the same that some of its patients have recovered?
Can the medical community explain what is meant by recovered or cured with regards to the coronavirus
To date, even the current diagnostic method to detect the presence of the coronavirus
using PCR and genomic sequencing is not even accurate as even mentioned by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US National Institutes of Health's infectious disease chief.
WHO and also US CDC has also mentioned in public that here is no cure or effective treatment for the coronavirus
to date. Some experimental protocols involving HIV antivirals only showed some degree of effectiveness in the beginning but is no longer seeming to work.
But what is interesting is what does China mean when it says cured? Is the coronavirus
totally eradicated from the body or are there any latent reservoirs that can become active again and infect others? Is there an effective way to determine the viral load accurately? If such latent reservoirs do exists can they cause health issues or chronic conditions in the short term or long term?
Respiratory viruses like influenza are known to cause long term low inflammation in the body even if minute reservoirs of these virus remains in the body for a while. It some case it has been known to affect heart muscles and even certain tissue in the ENT tract.
So what about in the case of the coronavirus?
Does it behave the same?
According to most medical experts, complete recovery from respiratory illnesses of any sort, including coronaviruses
, can take weeks to months. Scientists are still nailing down the infection’s trajectory.
Hence this makes it tricky to have an accurate recovery rate.
Dr. Margot Savoy, a practicing family physician and chair of family and community medicine at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University told Thailand Medical
News, “With any new infection, when we don’t yet know how long it will take for the virus to leave our system completely we do not know if we are cured yet. “
Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease physician and senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security agrees. He notes there are many ways of classifying whether someone has recovered or not.
He added, “It is important to note that the definition of recovery used in the data from China includes being without fever for a number of days. That is not really a valid way to determine whether someone is recovered from the coronavirus, as absence of fever for a short period of time may not be sufficient.&a
Dr Savoy says, “it’s important to realize that most viruses don’t have a cure. With viral infections, the goal is to avoid contracting them.”
Dr Zhan Qingyuan from China Health Commission says, “Patients who recover from China's deadly coronavirus
are at risk or relapsing or catching it again.”
He said, “One of the riskiest elements of the coronavirus
is that people have no immunity to it because it's completely new. And although the body is able to become partly immune to some viruses like flu or almost completely immune to others like chickenpox, reinfections do happen.”
Some doctors in the UK disputed Dr Zhan's claim as untrue and that there is so far no evidence of people relapsing from the virus.
The way people develop immunity to a virus is by creating substances called antibodies, highly specific parts of the immune system which seek out and attack the viruses they are produced to fight.
Dr Zhan added, 'The antibody will be generated. However, in most individuals, the antibody from the coronavirus
cannot last that long. Also the coronavirus
is evolving and already has a new subtype.”
This is why there are annual flu vaccines, which are updated every year to protect against the most common or dangerous strains at the time.
Dr Bharat Pankhania, a medical lecturer at the University of Exeter said it was “difficult to tell with certainty if what Dr Zhan has said is actually true”.
He added, “It is very early days for us to be able to say that it is not producing antibodies that recognise the second arrival of a coronavirus
and act on it. Biologically, the human body is exceptionally good at recognising a virus and attacking it. If it wasn't, 50 per cent of us wouldn't be here today.”
However Dr Pankhania admitted the possibility of a relapse could not be ruled out, citing the example of Pauline Cafferkey, the Scottish nurse who caught Ebola and relapsed after doctors thought she had recovered.
He further added, “There is a lot that we do not know about the coronavirus
. We do not know how the majority of patients get infected, or the course of their illness, or their recovery time, or whether they relapse. We don't know.”
Dr Paul Digard, an immunology expert at the University of Edinburgh added,” The reason people cannot build up proper immunity to flu viruses is because they change so often so the body does not recognize them. So far, the 2019-nCoV coronavirus
has only been around for a short time but already a new subtype has emerged.”
However more importantly, Dr Du Bin, director of the ICU at the Peking Union Medical College Hospital who is at Wuhan overseeing operations there said, “The coronavirus
damages people's lower respiratory systems, causing serious consequences even after a patient recovers. It typically take at least six months for patients to recover properly.” It was confirmed that in almost 97 per cent of the infected patients, the coronavirus targets the lung tissues aggressively.”
So with all this statements by doctors about recovery and being cured, what does China mean when it said recovered or cured? It gives out the number of patients cured daily but with the exception of 2 or three individuals who were claimed to have been cured and paraded in front of the media, no one has else seen or spoken to the rest. (Just to note, as part of a PR stint, the health authorities and doctors from a certain hospital in another country even got an elderly women to appear in front cameras to say that she was cured from the coronavirus
when other doctors at the same hospital said that the patient concerned was only suffering from common flu and never had the coronavirus
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