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2019年底源於中國武漢的新型冠狀病毒迅速擴散。2020年1月30日,世界衛生組織宣佈疫情構成「國際突發公共衛生事件」。

許多衛生專家擔心「武漢肺炎」會不會成為全球性傳染疾病。

2月11-12日,世界衛生組織與全球傳染病防範研究合作組織在日內瓦聯合舉辦2019年新型冠狀病毒研究與創新論壇。來自世界各地的300多位科學家親臨會場或者通過電話會議方式參與為期兩天的討論。

世衛組織總幹事譚德塞在開幕式上說,「很難相信,僅僅兩個月前,我們還完全不知道新型冠狀病毒。」

兩個月內,科學家對病毒的認識逐步加深,信息大幅度更新。不過,目前仍然存在許多未知數。

  • 肺炎疫情蔓延 全球醫學攻堅團隊加入防疫戰
  • 探尋新冠病毒疫情中兒童少有染病的深層原因
  • 肺炎疫情:什麼是超級傳播者? 他們對疫情有多大影響?
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新型冠狀病毒疫情在中國已造成超過1000人死亡
資料來源: 中國國家衞生健康委員會
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新冠病毒多危險?

這些未知數中就包括預測它會不會成為全球傳染病以及死亡率的兩個關鍵因素:病毒人傳人到底多容易?感染者中有多少會出現致命性的嚴重症狀。

死亡率很難凖確計算。最初有些科學家說,Covid-19(2019年新型冠狀病毒疾病)的危險度似乎低於薩斯(Sars)和中東呼吸綜合症(Mers)。單看確診和死亡人數的比例,目前的數字確實不高。不過這個數字可能很不可靠。

現階段,拿死亡人數除以確診人數得出死亡率,這種做法過於簡單。一、成千上萬的患者仍然在接受救治,結果未知;二、有多少症狀較輕、未從備案的患者呢?如果這個群體很大,那麼死亡率會更低。

疫情爆發初期吹哨人曾受打壓、疫區一度缺乏診斷設施、跟蹤/登記患者和死亡人數的凖確程度、中國政府的信息透明度等原因都有可能影響死亡率的計算。

因此,目前很難說2019年新型冠狀病毒疾病到底多致命。

科學界現在和今後一段時間將密切關注的另外一個問題是,病毒是否會變異。目前看來,病毒比較穩定。不過這並不排除未來變異的可能性。

  • 新冠疫苗和時間賽跑 會像非典疫苗一樣無果而終嗎?
  • 沒有特效藥的情況下 治療新冠在嘗試哪些藥物
  • 武漢肺炎:新病毒是如何命名的?
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption 最早公開武漢疫情的吹哨人李文亮醫生病逝,引發公眾對當局早期隱瞞疫情的不滿 「人傳人」多嚴重?

大多數病毒性呼吸道感染都是通過有症狀的病人咳嗽和打噴嚏傳播的。

最開始中國當局說病毒不會人傳人,現在我們知道,每一個感染者平均把病毒傳染給兩到三個人。超過1意味著病毒可以「自我維持」。換句話說,疫情不會自生自滅。

現在急需明確回答的其他問題還包括:

  • 隱形傳播:無症狀、潛伏期患者的感染性
  • 超級傳播者:薩斯、Mers疫情期間都曾出現超級傳播者

薩斯、埃博拉感染者只在出現症狀後才有傳染性,這樣的疫情相對更容易制止:查清/隔離患者、檢測接觸者即可,但是無症狀傳播的疫情更難控制。

世界衛生組織說,新冠病毒的潛伏期為2-10天,獲得更多數據之後,這個窗口可能縮小。

  • 武漢新型冠狀病毒肺炎會成為全球流行病嗎?
  • 動物傳人疫情不斷發生的原因和解決方案
  • 武漢肺炎:病毒到底如何影響你的身體?
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption 嬰兒和兒童病例很少,但目前原因不詳 哪些人群最危險?

現在科學家仍然不清楚哪些人群最易被感染、感染後出現嚴重和威脅生命症狀的風險最大;科學家也不清楚,擁有哪些特性的人更有可能不受感染。

新病毒是否和已知的流感病毒一樣、對免疫力更差的老年人和已有其他慢性疾病的人群——其中包括糖尿病、癌症、免疫力低下疾病等患者——威脅更嚴重呢?現在還不能下最後的結論。

值得注意的是,迄今確診的數萬病例中,嬰兒和兒童病例很少。但是專家們目前仍然不清楚這是為什麼。

  • 新型冠狀病毒疫情可能是野生動物的福祉
  • 比流感更可怕的神秘病毒竟然有這麼多
  • 武漢肺炎:醫用口罩能防止病毒傳播嗎?
新病毒有治療辦法嗎?

沒有。科學家正在努力研發疫苗,預計今年年底前可開始人體實驗。研發疫苗是為了防範未來。

許多醫院已經在試用現有的抗病毒藥物。

不過,現在的治療主要還是為患者緩解症狀、維持生命,這包括輸氧、輸液、呼吸機等。

另外,患者還需要保證休息、攝取足夠的營養和水,直到自身恢復足夠的免疫力,擊敗病毒。

患者康復後會免疫嗎?

首先,患者可以完全康復。感染冠狀病毒的患者很多症狀輕微,絶大多數都會完全康復。

中國衛健委專家說,症狀輕微的患者一周內即可恢復。

康復之後,患者的身體確實會保留一些「記憶」——知道未來再次感染時如何抵抗。

但是,這種免疫力並不總是長期的、也可能不是100%有效,並且可能隨著時間的推移而降低。

疫情能被制止嗎?

世界衛生組織說,疫情可以控制住,但是也有專家表示懷疑。美國疾病控制中心前任負責人就曾表示,新冠病毒將成為全球性傳染病。

控制疫情的唯一辦法是防止已感染者把病毒傳染給他人。這意味著:

  • 限制人員流動
  • 加強洗手等防範
  • 隔離治療患者

另外一個重大任務是:追蹤/檢測密切接觸者。

目前人們還有這樣的企盼:夏天會成為疫情的剋星。

確實,流感、感冒等在冬季更加流行,但是,中東呼吸綜合症Mers冠狀病毒是夏季起源於沙特阿拉伯的。

專家說,冠狀病毒在高溫季節肯定可以傳播,更重要的是傳播的程度。