A few weeks ago we covered the rise of a new coronoavirus that was popping up in a few places in the Middle East. Well, it looks like things are progressing, and not in a good way. Several new cases have come up, bringing the total count to nine. After samples were sent from the latest case to Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands, the new virus has been dubbed hCoV-EMC, (human Corona Virus – Erasmus Medical Center). While this name may not be as catchy as SARS, unfortunately the virus is.
Deadlier than SARS
Of the three new cases of hCoV-EMC, all three have died. While these have mostly been elderly patients this brings the total body count to 5 out of 9 – a mortality rate of over 50%. In comparison, SARS was considered a major global threat at a mortality rate of 10%. The Spanish Flu, considered a much worse epidemic had a mortality rate estimated at 18-20%. Granted, this is still in the early stages, but if this mortality rate holds up we are looking at a disease comparable to the black plague or smallpox.
We Don’t Know How it Works
Scientists were able to identify the mechanism used by SARS to infect human lung tissue. The virus had an affinity to a certain receptor called ACE2. It was able to use this receptor to essentially pry open a cell to get in. The problem was that ACE2 receptors are present mostly in deep lung tissue which was why the cases of the disease were so difficult to treat.
Unfortunately, research done on samples taken shows that hCoV-EMC does not rely on ACE2 to infect patients. Epidemiologists are back to the drawing board in terms of finding a cure for this virus.
Transmissible to Animals
The final piece to the terrifying puzzle is that hCov-EMC is transmissible back to animals. Normally, when a virus mutates to being contagious to humans, it no longer is a threat to animals. This new coronavirus is one of the first to display “horizontal transmission’ among species, which has some scary implications. While it is difficult to control populations of people with blockades and quarantines, it is pretty much impossible to stop the movement of animals. You can’t be shooting down every bird, bat or squirrel trying to get out of an infected area.
What if it spreads?
One of the scariest implications of this virus being transmissible to animals is the effect it would have on transportation of livestock. Infected areas would be on lockdown, in or out, and with animals as a target this could mean less beef on the shelf of your local supermarket. Stocking up on the essential survival foods right now would be a prudent measure.
In addition, with the levels of mortality being discussed, this is not the sort of disease you want to chance going to the market with a n95 mask on. Bug in or bug out, you will want to be avoiding people for some time if this ends up spreading.
Don’t be too late, start preparing now.