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Federal Research Center 
"Krasnoyarsk Science Center of the Siberian
Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences"

 Федеральный исследовательский центр «Красноярский научный центр Сибирского отделения Российской академии наук»

Federal Research Center 
"Krasnoyarsk Science Center of the Siberian
Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences"

Alexander Borisov: “Coronavirus is a new type of cold for humans”

3 February 2020 г.

Александр Борисов: «Коронавирус – это новая для человека разновидность простуды»
A new type of infection - coronavirus 2019 first appeared about two months ago in China and immediately became the subject of much debate. It is characterized by the symptoms of ordinary ARVI, but in a significant number of cases, it turns into severe pneumonia. What is this infection like, who falls into the “risk group” and is there a chance not to get infected? – These questions were asked by a correspondent of the news agency 1-Line to a leading researcher at the Research Institute of Medical Problems of the North of the Krasnoyarsk Science Center SB RAS, immunologist, infection specialist of the highest category, Candidate of medical sciences, professor Alexander Borisov.

Initially, epidemiologists didn’t expect the disease to take on a serious character, since coronaviruses are transmitted mainly from animals to humans, and in this case they are relatively easy to control. But everything turned out to be more complicated: a person with 2019-nCoV is able to infect others; worse still, by airborne transmission, which is the easiest way. It is most difficult to stop the spread of such an infection, especially in the modern world with its high mobility and almost transparent borders. And in early February, the first cases of coronavirus infection were already recorded in Russia.

- Alexander Gennadievich, what is a coronavirus? And from a scientific point of view, what could provoke its appearance?

“There are ten times more bacteria living in us than the cells in our own body.” And this applies not only to people, but also to all other living creatures, which, like us, are endowed with bacteria and microbes. As you know, all living things will divide. So, bacteria carrying viruses also actively divide. As a result, viruses begin to function in one cell, thus exchanging their genetic information and thereby, they acquire completely different properties. In such a way, new viruses appear. A similar situation occurred with coronavirus infection. What is it? This is also a virus which causes a cold infection, but a new one. Our immune system, which is not familiar with this new virus, begins to actively work against it: it destroys cells infected with this virus, well, and those that are nearby. As a result, the inflammatory process starts.

- So, does this mean that coronavirus is a new type of acute respiratory viral infection?

- That is right. A new type which our immune system has not encountered yet. A kind of a new type of cold for us. And such things happen from time to time. At the beginning of the last century, there was the “Spanish flu”. At that time, a third of the world's population was infected and about 100 million people died. Recently, we saw viruses of a different type: SARS, avian flu, swine influenza. The current widespread concern about the coronavirus is due to the fact that with the help of information technologies we now quickly find out everything rather than due to this virus being somewhat supernatural. Every day we find out how many people got infected, how many of them died. Although it is worth noting that the mortality rate for coronavirus is not as high as, for example, it was at one time with atypical pneumonia.

- Александр Геннадьевич, чтобы Вы сегодня посоветовали красноярцам? Как не стать жертвой этого нового вируса?

- That is, as the Russian proverb says: the devil is not so black as he is painted?

- Yes. In the modern world, there are enough resources to prevent this outbreak in a timely manner. And the Chinese in this regard has done well. Firstly, they did not conceal that such a problem arose. Secondly, they share with us not only information and material.

- According to available information, a large percentage of cases are elderly people. Why?

- Any virus attacks primarily those people who have immune problems. These are aged people and pregnant women, those whose immunity does not function properly.

- Are the treatment methods for coronavirus the same as for traditional flu?

- There is such a group of drugs as antiviral ones. They are able to block the infection. I think we will cope with this infection.

- Alexander Gennadievich, what would you advise Krasnoyarsk residents today? How not to fall prey to this new virus?

- Firstly, do not panic. Because any stress result in a decrease in the functioning of the immune system. Well, take basic preventive measures. Eat well, get enough sleep. And do not contact ill people.

Source: 1-line