According to Dr. Trevor Bedford, who works in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Washington, there could actually be a "few hundred" cases of the Wuhan coronavirus (CoVid-19) in Washington state that have yet to be detected, and that this is occurring amid an "already substantial outbreak" here on American soil.
As of Sunday afternoon, there are at least 74 confirmed cases of the Wuhan coronavirus (CoVid-19) in the United States, the majority of them having been detected on the West Coast. There are also several new confirmed cases in Illinois and Rhode Island, with Illinois reporting its third "presumptive case of novel coronavirus" pending official confirmation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In Washington state, the official number of Wuhan coronavirus (CoVid-19) cases has reached eight, with two men in the 60s, both with underlying health conditions, being reported in critical condition. One is being held at Valley Medical Center in Renton, while the other is at Virginia Mason.
Since none of the three new people confirmed to have the Wuhan coronavirus (CoVid-19) in Washington had traveled out of the country recently, Dr. Bedford believes that this is indicative of community spread within the United States.
"This strongly suggests that there has been cryptic transmission in Washington State for the past 6 weeks," Dr. Bedford tweeted the other day in conjunction with the release of a study he conducted on the matter.
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In Dr. Bedford's assessment, the second reported case of the Wuhan coronavirus (CoVid-19) in the U.S. is on the same evolutionary tree as the first known cases. The same is true of the first and second known cases of the Wuhan coronavirus (CoVid-19) specifically in Washington state, with the second case having likely contracted the disease from the first case.
Dr. Bedford also found that the first and second cases of the Wuhan coronavirus (CoVid-19) in Washington state were both in the Snohomish County area of the state, which he demarcated with a probability value of 0.3. Anything less than 0.5, it's important to note, is considered to be statistically significant and rules out the chance that the findings might be random.
"It's possible that this genetic similarity is a coincidence and these are separate introductions," Dr. Bedford admitted. "However, I believe this is highly unlikely. The WA1 case had a variant at site 18060. This variant is only present in 2/59 viruses from China."
"I'd assess the p-value for this coincidence at 2/59=0.03 and so is statistically significant," he added. "Additionally, these two cases are geographically proximal, both residing in Snohomish County."
Dr. Bedford believes that a "substantial outbreak" of the Wuhan coronavirus (CoVid-19) has already arrived in Washington state, which means that it's only a matter of time before this outbreak spreads to nearby states. He and his team are planning to release the results of new analyses they're performing in the coming days.
Commenting on his research, other scientists have been quick to suggest that most people who contract the Wuhan coronavirus (CoVid-19) will likely experience minimal symptoms, if any at all.
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