Experts warn coronavirus is ‘as dangerous as Ebola’ in shocking new study
It comes as a top expert warned that “Covid-19 is as dangerous as Ebola”, while urging members of the public to follow the Government’s advice. Professor Calum Semple, who is leading the most comprehensive research of coronavirus patients in the UK, said it showed more than a third of hospitalised patients had died.
Speaking at a virtual news conference, Prof Semple said: ”That’s the same for those admitted to hospital with Ebola,
“People need to hear this and get it into their heads.
“The reason the government is keen for people to stay at home until the outbreak is quietening down is because this is an incredibly dangerous disease.
“We still see isolated egregious examples of selfishness where people think it is ok to meet up in the park and share a four-pack of beer.
“There is a particular group of younger people who are taking an ‘I’m alright Jack, this doesn’t bother me’ attitude.
“They don’t understand they are just as likely to catch it and transmit it, and that will affect the rest of society.”
The Coronavirus Clinical Characterisation Consortium, which is led by Professor Semple, released clinical data of almost 17,000 cases of coronavirus in hospitals across the country.
The research also found that death rates were high among older patients.
It also revealed pregnant women do not have a higher risk of dying, but obesity is linked to mortality rates, even after the patient has adapted to other health issues.
But Professor Semple said obese people, who had a BMI over 30, also had a higher risk of being admitted to intensive care and dying.
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He said: “Fat cells secrete chemicals that increase the inflammatory state in the body,
“If you are a big person you are also more likely to have had a tough childhood and a tough life, brought up in an environment where you are exposed to multiple deprivations.
“Together they make it a very tough ride for these people when they catch COVID-19.”
The experts are working to recognise the risk factors that might point out patients that will have a poor outcome.
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Professor Peter Openshaw, an expert in experimental medicine at Imperial College London and part of the consortium, said the research showed “sobering figures” and that the virus was “presenting quite a lot of strange twists and turns.”
“It’s not just behaving like a cough virus,” he said.
“There are anecdotal reports of people starting off with a cough and shortness of breath, then seeming to get better, and then returning with a more systemic (whole body) disease, inflammation in the blood vessels and a tendency to form blood clots in different parts of the body.
“So it’s proving a much more complex disease than we initially thought.
“It is remarkable to see a new disease unfolding in front of our eyes.”
According to the study, published on the medRxiv website, 83% of affected have been treated on hospital wards without being transferred to intensive care. Yet 31% of those still died.
Dr Annemarie Docherty, another of the researchers and an honorary consultant in critical care at the University of Edinburgh, said it was incorrect to believe that the sickest patients will automatically be admitted to intensive care because it may not be in their best interests.
“If you are ventilated you are unable to communicate with your family, rates of delirium are significantly higher and if there is little or no aspiration to recover, we are not doing these patients any favours by bringing them to the ICU,” she said.
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