In DepthInfectious Diseases

Coronavirus epidemic snarls science worldwide

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Science  21 Feb 2020:
Vol. 367, Issue 6480, pp. 836-837
DOI: 10.1126/science.367.6480.836

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  • RE: A naming proposal: Use Contagious Opaque-lung Respiratory Syndrome (CORS) and its viruses (CORS-CoV) as common names for COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2
    • Xiu-Qing Li, Research Scientist, Fredericton Research and Development Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 850 Lincoln Road, Fredericton, NB, E3B 4Z7 Canada
    • Other Contributors:
      • Vinson F. Lee, Student, Smith School of Business, Queen’s University, Goodes Hall, Kingston, Ontario, K7L 3N6 Canada
      • Ping Zhang, Research Scientist, Tianditongguang Research Institute, 777 4th Section of Huafu Road, Shuangliu District, Chengdu City, 610200 P. R. China
      • Xiang Gao, Medical Doctor, Department of Allergy, The Affiliated Hospital of Qingdao University, 16 Jiangsu Road, Qingdao City, 266003 P. R. China
      • Weiliang Xin, Medical Doctor, Hexin Hospital, Precision Medicine Academy, 4438 Jianxin Road, Shouguang, Shandong, 262700 P.R. China

    “The coronavirus epidemic” and “the novel virus” described in Robert F. Service’s article (1) have been through chaotic naming processes (2).

    The disease was originally named “Wuhan pneumonia”(3, 4) or “Novel Coronavirus–Infected Pneumonia (NCIP)”(5). The World Health Organization (WHO) renamed the disease to COVID-19 (6), which, however, lacks a description of symptoms. These names do not imply any similar conventions to SARS for the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and MERS for the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, two previous coronavirus outbreaks.

    The causal virus of this coronavirus outbreak was called “2019-nCoV” (7), a different naming style from the two previous coronaviruses SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV. The Coronavirus Study Group (CSG) of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses then named this 2019 new pathogen “SARS-CoV-2” based on phylogenetic grouping with no consideration of disease (8). However, WHO concerns that the terms may create unnecessary fear for some populations that were seriously affected by the SARS outbreak in 2003 (2). Regardless of phylogenetic positions, it is more convenient for the public and medical doctors if a viral pathogen has a common name with certain association with symptoms.

    This new outbreak is characterized by being highly contagious and resulting in opaque-lung (5). For example, starting from a single patient, 624 people were infected by the coronavirus (by February 19, 2020) on the Diamond Princ...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.
  • RE: To be or not to be: The effect of online education on myopia
    • Baichang Zhong, Professor/Online education Specialist, School of Information Technology in Education, South China Normal University, Guangzhou, China.
    • Other Contributors:
      • Zehui Zhan, Professor/Online education Specialist, School of Information Technology in Education, South China Normal University, Guangzhou, China.

    Dear Editor,
    As reported in this article, the deadly outbreak of coronavirus 2019-nCoV has made online classes a formal learning setting in most schools under government policies in China, tremendously changing the traditional face-to-face classroom-based method. That means, nearly 200 million adolescent students (1) are receiving online education as the only approach of formal learning for 4 to 8 hours per day. However, online learning opportunities is not safe to assume that they will “level the playing field” (2), which may potentially lead to major health and social issues that needs adequate attention and interdisciplinary research. Especially, many parents and teachers worried about the children’s visual health and critiqued on the government policy. However, focusing only on its potential harmful effects is comparable to ask about car is whether people can die driving them.

    Actually, teenagers’ myopia prevalence or myopia progression is already a widely-emphasized problem in China for many years. The myopia rate was 53.6% in 2018 among Chinese adolescents (3). There meanwhile have long been numerous studies on the effects of screen time on myopia, but the results have been inconsistent, with some suggesting that screen time directly impaired vision and increased nearsightedness (4, 5), while others claimed no direct relationship (6). The inconsistent correlation between screen time and myopia appeals to propose the questions formally and double think ab...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.
  • RE: Coronavirus epidemic snarls science worldwide
    • Bruce Wexler, Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscientist, Yale University

    China’s greatest assets in the war against Covid-19 are the many thousands of people who have natural immunity by virtue of having recovered from infection. In order to halt the spread of Covid-19, quarantine and treatment centers must be fully staffed by people with such immunity. Efforts to protect health care workers from infection are ineffective at scale due to equipment shortages and limitations and human error. Continued use of disease-naive staff who return to the community will ensure continued spread of the illness.
    There are two large sources of “virus fighters” with natural immunity. First are community volunteers who have recovered from infection. Identified by arm bands and rewarded for volunteering, they can be deployed to quarantine and treatment centers, and public-facing positions in stores and restaurants. Second are young healthy soldiers deployed to quarantine and treatment centers, housed in their own hotels with state-of-the-art treatment floors, and with rest, exercise, food and other supports that enhance immune response. If infected, approximately 95% will have mild symptoms and fast recovery. Although exact death rates in this demographic are yet to determined, available data provide a high level of confidence that, especially with early state-of-the-art care, mortality will be very, very low. They will be at far less risk than during military deployments and probably even than during military training and exercises. They will rapidly becom...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.

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