Dr. Kenneth Hughes has followed the infection and death statistics as the novel coronavirus has traveled from China to the Europe and to the United States.  The virus has infected more people as it has come to the United States and the death rate has been higher thus far.

 

How Does One Explain the Relatively Low Death Rate in China, but the Huge Number of Deaths in the United States?

Are those people infected in the United States less healthy than their Chinese counterparts? No

Do the patients infected in the United States have a greater number of comorbidities than their Chinese counterparts?  No.

Does the American medical system possess less sophistication or have fewer capabilities than the healthcare system in China?  Decidedly not.

What is the reason for the improved virulence of this pathogen in the United States?  Viral Mutation.

 

Like most viruses, mutations in a virus can alter the effectiveness of that virus to infect and the effectiveness of the virus to cause cellular damage in the host.  Many of these mutations result in no virulence changes or make the virus less virulent.  However, some of these mutations produce an improvement in function.

In the case of Covid-19, the viral mutation allowed the virus greater efficiency in invading cells and particularly the cells of the lung.

A genetic mutation in the coronavirus increased the number of attachments the virus uses to bind to and break into cells and made them more stable.  Thus, the ability to infect cells was significantly improved.  With this improvement the United States and other countries saw a more potent enemy.

In addition, recent journal articles published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases revealed that patients with underlying respiratory illnesses are more vulnerable to coronavirus infections due the increased number of receptors in these individuals on the lung tissue.  So patients with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disesase have more of these receptor proteins on their lung cells than healthy people.  Thus, these patients will tend to suffer from a more serious case of Covid-19 and the consequences will tend to be more severe.

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