COVID-19 Studies: Medical Researchers from Hong Kong University School of Public Health have discovered that the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is up to 100 times more infectious through the eyes and airways than the 2003 SARS Virus.
According to the researchers the eyes are an important route for the coronavirus into the human body and that the new SARS-CoV02 coronavirus was up to 100 times more infectious than severe acute respiratory syndrome and bird flu in the two facial orifices tested by the public health experts.
Laboratory tests revealed the viral levels of the novel coronavirus that causes the deadly COVID-19 disease was far greater than for Sars virus, in the upper respiratory airways and conjunctiva and the cells lining the surfaces of the eyes.
The research team led by Dr Michael Chan Chi-Wai provides clinical evidence that the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus can infect humans through both entry points and the study findings are published in the journal, The Lancet Respiratory Medicine. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanres/article/PIIS2213-2600(20)30193-4/fulltext#%20
Dr Chan told Thailand Medical News, “We cultured tissues from the human respiratory tract and eyes in the laboratory and applied them to study the SARS-Cov-2, comparing it with Sars and H5N1. We found that SARS-Cov-2 is much more efficient in infecting the human conjunctiva and the upper respiratory airways than Sars, with virus levels some 80 to 100 times higher.”
He added, “This explains the higher transmissibility of COVID-19 than that of Sars. This study also highlights the fact that eyes may be an important route of SARS-CoV-2 human infection.”
The new research findings reinforces advice to the public not to touch their eyes and to wash hands regularly to avoid infection, after the university researchers previously found the coronavirus could survive as long as seven days on stainless steel surfaces and plastic.
The research also highlights the needs for healthcare workers and other people at higher risk to wear proper protective eyewear or goggles to avoid getting infected.In fact as much as possible, even the general population should be wearing protective eyewear besides protective mask to further safeguard themselves against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.
The study results from Dr Chan’s team also challenge the widely held assumption in the earliest stages of the health crisis that medical staff would be adequately protected with N95 masks and protective clothing, without the need for specialist glasses.
Earlier in January, renowned Peking University First Hospital respiratory specialist Dr Wang Guangfa reported that he had come down with a fever and catarrh, about three hours after his eye had developed conjunctivitis on his return to Beijing from Wuhan. He was later confirmed with COVID-19, with his eyes suspected as the route of infection.
Thailand Medical News had also warned about possible ocular transmission in an article on the 6th Of February.
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