The new strain of coronavirus has spread rapidly throughout Earth, with cases now confirmed in 25 counties, including two in the UK. In total, the virus has infected at least 20,600 people, resulting in 427 deaths since it broke out in December.
The rapid spread throughout countries has led experts to label it a pandemic, with experts struggling to contain the outbreak.
Dr Gregory Poland, director of Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group, told CNBC: “We’re basically at a pandemic now.”
A pandemic refers to an outbreak which has spread across large swathes of Earth – usually at least an entire country.
An epidemic is a disease which is prevalent in a community.
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Another doctor was unsure whether the current outbreak could be halted before it truly becomes catastrophic.
Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, told The New York Times: “It’s very, very transmissible, and it almost certainly is going to be a pandemic.
“But will it be catastrophic? I don’t know.”
While many fear they will become infected by the newly identified strain of coronavirus, dubbed 2019-nCoV, the infection does surprisingly seem to favour certain demographics, according to the most detailed study to date.
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The latest study from Chinese health officials surprisingly found males are slightly more at risk than females.
The research points out 68 percent of people infected by the virus were males, with the researchers struggling to understand why.
One theory from the researchers, according to the study published in The Lancet, said: “The reduced susceptibility of females to viral infections could be attributed to the protection from X chromosome and sex hormones, which play an important role in innate and adaptive immunity.”
The research also found people who become infected, tend to be middle aged, with the average of 55.5 years.
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However, this does not mean younger people cannot become infected, with the research stating that 10 percent of confirmed cases came from people under the age of 39.
Coronavirus also seemed to favour those with pre-existing medical conditions, with the study listing: “Chronic diseases, including cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases, endocrine system disease, digestive system disease, respiratory system disease, malignant tumour, and nervous system disease.”
In conclusion, the authors of the research said: “Our results suggest that 2019-nCoV is more likely to infect older adult males with chronic comorbidities as a result of the weaker immune functions of these patients.”