GENEVA, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- Any comparison between the novel coronavirus, which caused seven deaths globally, and SARS virus in terms of spread speed or disease severity is premature, a Swiss immunobiologist said Friday.
Volker Thiel of the Institute of Immunobiology at Cantonal Hospital in St. Gallen, Switzerland, with other researchers, published the new findings on the novel coronavius Tuesday in the American online journal mBio, which showed the new virus replicates very well in human airway epithelial cells.
However, "from these data one can't conclude that the novel CoV is more dangerous than SARS-CoV," Thiel told Xinhua.
"For example, we don't know how the novel CoV interacts with the immune system, therefore, any comparison between the novel CoV and SARS-CoV with regard to spread, disease severity, ect. is premature," he said.
Thiel said so far the risk of human infection with the novel coronavirus is very low, so standard hygiene is recommended for prevention.
The research also showed that certain types of interferons can efficiently reduce the replication of the virus in human airway epithelial cells, which may provide a possible treatment option in cases of suspected human novel coronavirus infection.
To date, the World Health Organization (WHO) has been informed of a total of 13 confirmed cases of human infection with the new coronavirus, including seven deaths. A cluster of three cases were reported last week in a British family and one of them died Sunday.
Although the family infections suggested person-to-person transmission of the new virus, on the basis of current evidence, the risk of sustained person-to-person transmission appears to be very low, the WHO said.
WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl told Xinhua on Wednesday that the risk of the novel coronavirus infection is unchanged but urged health authorities to remain vigilant as it is impossible to predict the future.