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  • Ecuador’s former President Rafael Correa hosted Cuban specialist in ​​genetic engineering, Luis Herrera.

    Ecuador’s former President Rafael Correa hosted Cuban specialist in ​​genetic engineering, Luis Herrera. | Photo: RT

Published 10 March 2020

The specialist pointed out that coronavirus "achieves a decrease in interferon levels," a immune substance animals and humans secrete to eliminate viruses. 

For the latest edition of his show Talking with Correa (Conversando con Correa), Ecuador’s former President Rafael Correa hosted Cuban specialist in ​​genetic engineering Luis Herrera, who provided some details about the novel coronavirus. 

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"It belongs to the family of RNA viruses," the expert said, recalling that this kind of disease has precedents. "One of the first epidemics, which became more known in the Arabian-Persian Gulf countries, was mostly seen in Qatar."

The specialist pointed out that the coronavirus "achieves a decrease in interferon levels," a immune substance animals and humans secrete to eliminate viruses. 

"Where does it come from? Why did this epidemic outbreak occur?" Correa asked his guest who answered that coronaviruses circulate among animals with some of them being transmitted to humans.

Herrera also provided some technical considerations to help understand how the virus spreads. 

"If the virus is very lethal, it is said that it kills its own host. Then, it has nowhere to multiply." But a virus like the coronavirus, which kills slowly, can be highly invasive because it has time to infect many, according to the doctor.

That’s why the epidemic is decreasing in Wuhan, China, the most affected city, Herrera continued. “The virus does not have anyone to infect anymore. There was a quarantine mechanism around the city." 

On the other hand, Herrera said that the coronavirus originated in China "because of the interactions with animals and the life system there." Correa warned however that this circumstance can be used to fuel racism.

"I remember that AIDS pandemic in the 1980s, which had supposedly been transmitted by apes in Africa and then served a lot of discrimination. Something similar is happening now."

In addition, Correa celebrated that China "is using Cuban technology to fight the coronavirus." Herrera, who works as a scientific and commercial advisor to the president of BioCubaFarma, the business group of the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries of the island, said that Cuba received compensation for owning the intellectual property of that technology. 

As of Tuesday, more than 113,000 people around the world have been infected with the coronavirus and almost 4,000 people have died, most of them in China. More than 62,000 people have recovered so far.

Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.

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