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1 in 10 may be COVID infected worldwide

1 in 10 may be COVID infected worldwide
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (center) along with Michael Ryan (left) and Maria van Kerkhove. (AP)
GENEVA, OCT 5 (AP) | Publish Date: 10/5/2020 1:01:22 PM IST

The head of emergencies at the World Health Organization said Monday its “best estimates” indicate that roughly 1 in 10 people worldwide may have been infected by the coronavirus — more than 20 times the number of confirmed cases — and warned of a difficult period ahead.

Dr Michael Ryan, speaking to a special session of the WHO’s 34-member executive board focusing on COVID-19, said the figures vary from urban to rural, and between different groups, but that ultimately it means “the vast majority of the world remains at risk.”  He said the pandemic would continue to evolve, but that tools exist to suppress transmission and save lives.

“Many deaths have been averted and many more lives can be protected,” Ryan said. He was flanked by his boss, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who minutes earlier led a moment of silence to honor victims as well as round of applause for the health workers who have strived to save them. Ryan said southeast Asia faced a surge in cases, Europe and the eastern Mediterranean were seeing an increase in deaths, while the situations in Africa and the Western Pacific were “rather more positive.” 

“Our current best estimates tell us that about 10 percent of the global population may have been infected by this virus,” Ryan told attendees from member governments who make up the executive board and provide much of its funding.

The estimate — which would amount to more than 760 million people based on a current world population of about 7.6 billion — far outstrips the number of confirmed cases as tallied by both WHO and Johns Hopkins University, now more than 35 million worldwide.

Experts have long said that the number of confirmed cases greatly underestimates the true figure.

The comments came during a special session of the executive board to consider the follow-up to its previous meeting, in May, that passed a resolution to look into the world’s — and WHO’s — response to the pandemic. Ryan warned that the world was “now heading into a difficult period. The disease continues to spread. It is on the rise in many parts of the world.”

Mammals could be susceptible to Covid
About 26 animals that come in regular contact with people may be vulnerable to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, says a study. The researchers found that most birds, fish, and reptiles do not appear to be at risk of infection, but the majority of the mammals they reviewed could potentially be infected. They predict possible infection in domestic cats, dogs, mink, lions, and tigers, all of which have had reported cases, as well as ferrets and macaques, which have been infected in laboratory studies, according to the study published in the journal Scientific Reports.
“We wanted to look beyond just the animals that had been studied experimentally, to see which animals might be at risk of infection..,” said lead author Christine Orengo, Professor at University College London. “The animals we identified may be at risk of outbreaks that could threaten endangered species or harm the livelihoods of farmers. The animals might also act as reservoirs of the virus, with the potential to re-infect humans later on, as has been documented on mink farms.” For the study, the researchers investigated how the spike protein from SARS-CoV-2 could interact with the main cellular receptor for the virus in humans called angiotensin converting enzyme-2 (ACE2).
The focus of the investigation was whether mutations in ACE2 protein in 215 different animals, that make it different from the human version, would reduce the stability of the binding complex between the virus protein and host protein. Binding to the protein enables the virus to gain entry into host cells. While it is possible the virus might be able to infect animals via another pathway, it is unlikely based on current evidence that the virus could infect an animal if it cannot form a stable binding complex with ACE2.
The researchers found that for some animals, such as sheep and great apes (chimpanzee, gorilla, orangutan, and bonobo, many of which are endangered in the wild), the proteins would be able to bind together just as strongly as they do when the virus infects people.
 

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