Daily updates on the emerging novel coronavirus from the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.
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February 03, 2020 - Afternoon Update

EPI UPDATES The Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering estimates 17,496 confirmed cases and 362 deaths due to nCoV. Outside of China, the WHO reports 153 confirmed cases, including seven new cases since yesterday’s situation report. They also note that “[n]o new countries reported cases of 2019-nCoV in the past 24 hours.”  

CDC reports that 11 confirmed cases have been diagnosed in the United States. The first case diagnosed in the US, a man diagnosed in Washington State after traveling to Wuhan, has been released from the hospital. 

CLINICAL SEVERITY ESTIMATED The NIH’s Dr. Anthony Fauci was quoted Monday as saying “ [a]bout 25% of [nCoV patients] have very serious disease, requiring relatively intensive or really intensive care”. However, Dr. Fauci also acknowledged that current statistics likely undercount the number of nCoV cases, especially those that are mild in nature. As a result, the true percentage of patients that present with critical illness is likely to be lower. 

DRUG TRIALS, PREDICTIONS There are a number of clinical trials currently underway in China to identify medical countermeasures for 2019-nCoV. The Chinese Clinical Trials Registry lists at least 24 trials involving the novel coronavirus. In other news, several groups have recently published papers or pre-prints using computer modeling, AI, and deep-learning to predict antiviral activity of a range of medicinal compounds. Richardson and colleagues reported that the janus kinase inhibitor baricitinib could reduce viral entry and inflammation in nCoV patients and recommended that a clinical trial be conducted. Similarly, Beck and colleagues used a deep-learning model and predicted that the HIV therapeutic atazanavir may be an effective inhibitor of nCoV binding to host proteins.   

G7 HEALTH MINISTERS AGREE TO COOPERATE Health ministers from the G7 convened on a conference call today and agreed to coordinate their 2019-nCoV response efforts, including travel regulations and precautions, research efforts, and collaboration with WHO, the EU, and China. The G7’s membership includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. 

INTERNATIONAL TECHNICAL MISSION Last week, WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to an international mission that would “visit China as soon as possible to work with Chinese counterparts on increasing understanding of the outbreak to guide global response efforts.” Today, the Hill reported that American experts from the CDC would be eligible to join that mission. 

HHS RESPONSE FUNDING The Washington Post reports that the Department of Health and Human Services notified Congress that they may reallocate funds to free an additional $136 million for their response to nCoV. The Washington Post further reports that CDC has used up a portion of their $105 million normally set aside for public health emergencies and disasters. Roughly 55% of the newly allocated funds would go to the CDC, while roughly 40% would go to the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response within HHS. The final 5% would go to the Office of Global Affairs. 

QUARANTINES CONTINUE The Australian government has started moving citizens evacuated from Wuhan to Christmas Island. The first group included 243 individuals, and a second plane is scheduled to land later this week. This move comes just days after the plan received criticism from the head of the Australian Medical Association, seeking a “more humane solution” for helping the vulnerable population. In other news, Canada has announced that Canadian citizens evacuated from Wuhan will be placed in a 14 day quarantine at a military base in Ontario.