Coronavirus: It’s the end of the world as we know it

Sky News/The Sun


In 1918 the Spanish Flu epidemic killed up to 50 million people world wide… In 2008 and again in 2009 evidence  emerged to suggest that the epidemic may well have been an early attempt at population reduction.

50 million deaths sort of puts into perspective the 30 people who have died worldwide of this new “Sars like infection”, doesn’t it?

Almost like the authority’s want you to be aware of this new super bug and panic, in fact… Now, why would that be?


Coronavirus: Three More Deaths From Infection

The Sars-like infection is confirmed to have killed another three in Saudi Arabia, further worrying health officials.


A electron microscope image of a coronavirus is seen in this undated picture provided by the Health Protection Agency in LondonCoronavirus has an unusually high death rate

Three more people have died from a new Sars-like strain of coronavirus, bringing the total global death toll so far to 30.

The World Health Organisation has made the announcement after three people died of the illness in Saudi Arabia, which is bearing the brunt of the outbreak.

The number of deaths has risen steadily since a man died in Birmingham of the virus in February at which point only six had died.

WHO spokesman Glenn Thomas said that the number was raised from 27 after Saudi authorities confirmed the deaths of the three.

They had previously been reported to the WHO as suffering from the disease.

In addition, Mr Thomas said, a new case has been recorded in Saudi Arabia, lifting the global total to 50, including the fatalities.

The new virus was last week renamed the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus, or MERS, reflecting the fact that the bulk of the cases are in that region.

There have now been 39 confirmed cases in Saudi Arabia, 25 of them fatal, according to WHO figures.

The UN health agency logs cases and deaths according to the country where the individual is thought to have caught the disease.

It includes the one individual who subsequently died in Britain.

Previously known as nCoV-EMC novel coronavirus, the disease is a cousin of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars), which sparked a world health scare in 2003.

That disease had leapt from animals to humans in Asia and went on to kill some 800 people.

Like Sars, the new virus appears to cause an infection deep in the lungs, with patients suffering from a temperature, cough and breathing difficulties.

But it differs from Sars in that it also causes rapid kidney failure.

Health officials have expressed concern about the high rate of fatalities compared to the number of cases, warning that the disease could spark a new global crisis if it acquires an ability to spread more easily.



Could a deadly virus wipe out earth?

‘A pandemic virus only needs to win once and it may be the end of mankind’,
says Professor John Oxford, viral expert at the Universtity of London

The Sun

KHALID HUSSAIN became the first Brit to die of a SARS-type virus this week.

Khalid, 38, died in a Birmingham hospital after becoming infected through his father, who had been on a trip to Mecca.


Sun: Saudi bug kills

Virus death … Sun report


After seeing swine flu and bird flu take countless lives around the world, is it possible that coronavirus could become a pandemic and wipe out thousands of lives – like the one in Matt Damon film Contagion?

Leading virologist Professor John Oxford, from the University of London, says such an outbreak may not be as unlikely as we think.



THE symptoms of the new SARS-like coronavirus are a serious cough, a shortness of breath and a rise in temperature.

Unfortunately, this sounds like the average common cold.

It’s the bit that follows that gets worrying — breathing becomes a struggle and your lips start going blue.

In hospital, they’ll ask you if you’ve been on holiday recently. If the answer is Tenerife, they’ll send you back home.

But if you’ve come back from the Middle East, they will begin looking at you differently.

They’ll start by donning face masks and white gowns. Throat samples will be taken and sent to a high-security laboratory.

Your body will start to get floppy as your lungs struggle to get oxygen.

You’ll find yourself being stretchered down the corridor or transferred by ambulance in a plastic anti-infection bubble to a hospital specialising in intensive care for people with respiratory infections.



Deadly … coronavirus


If you’re lucky, your body will stay calm and your immune system will kill the virus. You’ll have defeated the coronavirus.

But if your immune system overreacts to the virus, you’ll find yourself teetering between life and death.

Fluid will build up in your lung tissue, making breathing even more difficult.

You’ll be put on a life-support machine and given a 50/50 chance of recovery.

Unfortunately for you, antibiotics will not touch the virus and there are no antiviral drugs.

Six people have died such a death so far, worldwide. The first patient to die in Britain passed away on Sunday night at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham and the Health Protection Agency is now on full alert.

Doctors in accident and emergency departments have been briefed to take extra samples if a patient has visited Pakistan or the Middle East.

Britain’s public-health laboratories have been working round the clock to get a genetic fingerprint of the virus.

Meanwhile, scientists at Rotterdam University in Holland are looking at swabs taken at the start of the outbreak eight months ago.

They are keen to see if the virus has a common source or if it is a nasty conglomeration of several viruses from this family.

The worst-case scenario is that the virus adapts itself so that it is able to spread more easily from person to person.

The best-case scenario is that we have a virus that struggles to leap from person to person — and can only do so within families.

So far, it appears to be the latter.


London Underground station

Close contact … airborne viruses can thrive in city settings like London
Getty Images


The virus had a chance to go global after Christmas when four million pilgrims went to Mecca in Saudi Arabia for the Haj religious pilgrimage.

There was no mass outbreak. But the virus does appear to be airborne — meaning that it can be carried by droplets from your mouth.

In a family setting, this means that kissing, sharing towels, sneezing and coughing without putting your hand up are all high-risk behaviours.

In a city context this could mean that close contact on packed Tube trains could help the virus to thrive.

The worry is that the more people get infected, the higher the chance that it could mutate.

But the good news is that viruses are not notorious for mutating. With more attention to hygiene, the chances are the spread of this virus will be halted.

Will there ever be an infectious disease that could wipe out the human population? It’s possible.

I do think it’s inevitable that we’ll have a global outbreak of flu sometime around 2017-18, if historical cycles are anything to go by. Vigilant surveillance is the only real answer that we have.


Professor John Oxford

Warning … Professor John Oxford


New flu strains are a day-to-day problem and we have to be careful to keep on top of them.

We now have scientific processes enabling us to quickly identify the genome — the total genetic content — of the virus behind a new illness, so that we know what we are dealing with.

The best we can do after that is to develop and stockpile vaccines and antiviral drugs that can fight new strains that we see emerging.

I’m worried our politicians are not taking this certainty of mass death seriously enough.

Such laxity could come at a human cost so unprecedentedly high that it would amount to criminal negligence.

The race against newly-emerging, animal-derived diseases is one we must win every time.

A pandemic virus needs to win only once and it could be the end of humankind.

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