Li Lanjuan, a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and expert from the National Health Commission, answers questions about the novel coronavirus epidemic during an interview with China Central Television in Hangzhou, East China's Zhejiang province, on Jan 29, 2020. (Photo/Xinhua)
Li Lanjuan, a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and expert from the National Health Commission, answered questions about the novel coronavirus epidemic during an interview with China Central Television on Wednesday night. Below are excerpts from the interview:
The number of confirmed cases of novel coronavirus pneumonia had reached 5,794 by the end of Tuesday, exceeding the number of confirmed cases of SARS in 2003. Some people say this means this epidemic is worse than SARS, do you agree?
We cannot say it this way. SARS started in December 2002 and appeared in Guangzhou in January and February 2003. It had actually already spread to the whole country at that time before finally arriving in Beijing and causing a relatively big epidemic in Beijing. Our ability to test the disease at that time was poorer than today.
Today we have very good testing equipment and reagents. As soon as a patient was found, we could develop the test reagent quickly, and the equipment in all communities and major hospitals has been significantly improved. Therefore, the infected people can be found and quarantined as early as possible, and the data is closer to reality.
During the SARS epidemic, our technical capabilities were not high enough, so we can't compare the two this way. Our current level of prevention and control is very high.
Will there be antibodies after recovery from the pneumonia caused by the novel coronavirus? Will the people who recover infect others?
Patients who recover from the novel coronavirus-caused pneumonia will produce a kind of antibody. During the SARS epidemic, we also used the plasma of recovered people to treat infected patients. The plasma of recovered people contains antibodies so generally speaking they will not be infected again.
On Thursday in Hangzhou, there was one confirmed case that for the first time showed no symptoms as well as the first confirmed case without a clear source of infection. What does this mean? What difficulties does this add to the prevention work?
This increases the difficulty for us to control the source of infection. Everyone knows that the most important thing to control the epidemic is to control the source of infection, and to control the source of infection you need to find the source of infection. If the infection is hidden, it would be very difficult to find it and it would be highly dangerous if it is transmitted to others secretly.
Therefore we now advocate the application of big data information technology to analyze the correlation between the flow of people and the situation of transmission. I proposed using big data on Jan 20 to the government.
Our work partners in Zhejiang province have drawn a map of the population flow in China, including the seafood market in Wuhan (which is suspected to be the source of the outbreak) and the source of infection in each province. The use of big data also helps find those who had no contact history with those infected, so we now fully promote the application of big data methods.