CORONAVIRUS Pandemic 2020 (COVID-19)- General information

This article is written on Tuesday, 17 March 2020. This article is written from authentic scientific references as per WHO guidelines about Coronavirus (COVID-19). The references are listed at the bottom of the article, For emergency information regarding Coronavirus, please refer to the official website of the World Health Organization (WHO).

 

CORONAVIRUS Pandemic 2020 (COVID-19)- General information

 

Currently, the world is facing one of the worst life-threatening epidemics, the COVID-19 caused by the novel CORONAVIRUS. It started infecting people in  December 2019.

Something about Epidemics-

An epidemic is also called ‘Outbreak’. It is the occurrence of an illness, or specific health-related behavior, etc. in excess of normal expectancy, in any region.

Here, in excess of normal expectancy means if the cases of the infectious disease are more than what the health authorities are expecting normally. For example, smallpox has now been completely eradicated from the world. So, today normally we expect zero cases of smallpox.

Hence, if only 1 case of smallpox arises today, then it would be called as an Epidemic…

Smallpox was the first infectious disease to be eradicated off.

Types of Epidemics-

 

In this post, we will only talk about Infectious diseases.

Some of the infectious diseases are measles, HIV- AIDS, Rotavirus, H.Influenzae, Cholera, Yellow fever, coronavirus, etc.

Plague Epidemics

               Painting of the plague of Ashdod, 1630

Plague is also an infectious disease caused by bacteria.

Symptoms of Plague-

1. Fever

2. Weakness

3. headache

Usually, the symptoms arise one to seven days after exposure.

How did the epidemics start?

If we want to understand our present and anticipate the future, then surely we have to take help from history and learn from the past.

Before 10000 years ago, humans were hunter-gatherers in small families or a group of 20-30. So, these small populations didn’t sustain the major epidemic infections.

Hunter gatherers-The man carries a bow, three steel-tipped arrows, and a hat to approach to deer for a shot

Afterward, humans started becoming more concentrated towards each other & they started farming.

Due to agriculture and more closeness among people, infections slowly started between humans to humans..because microbes were then allowed to jump between different species like from animals to humans…

EXAMPLE-

1. Human disease MEASLES originated from cattle disease RINDERPEST around 7000 years ago.

            A boy having measles (Source_https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Images)

2. Smallpox was believed to be originated from Camelpox around 4000 years ago. A similar case was for Influenzae.

3. When agriculture was performed at a wide level, during the storage of grains, rodents infestation was very common, hence, contact between rodents and humans led to the growth of diseases like Plague and Typhus.

4. Syphilis disease was introduced into Europe by the returning travelers.

The cause of Epidemics was not known until the 19th century. Then Louis Pasteur in the 19th century provided evidence for the Germ theory of disease and he isolated some of the microbes that caused the infectious diseases.

After Louis Pasteur, rapid advancements in this field took place, i.e. development of antimicrobial therapy, method of immunization, etc.

Now,

Smallpox is eradicated

Polio is close to eradication, &

Measles is very less yet in some rare countries…

 

ABOUT COVID-19 CORONAVIRUS

Coronavirus is a very large family of viruses. Among these, one coronavirus is recently discovered which causes the disease named COVID-19.

This new disease COVID-19 and its causing virus were completely unknown before December 2019, but later the cases started rising in Wuhan, China and still today, it is increasing at an extremely alarming rate… dated today Thursday, 19 March 2020 IST.

The WHO declared Covid-19 as a Pandemic recently. The main difference between the Pandemic and Epidemic is in the geographical location and spread.

A pandemic is a type of epidemic that relates to geographic spread and describes a disease that affects an entire country or the whole world. Currently, Covid-19 disease which is caused by Coronavirus is the ongoing pandemic.

The worst-hit countries due to coronavirus are China, Italy, Iran, Spain, Germany, the USA, etc. in the decreasing order.

Almost the whole world is fighting against the Coronavirus infection. Public places are shut, minimum air travel in the world among people recorded, shortages of masks, sanitizers, etc. are more common now -a- days.

Some data shows that very aged patients infected with coronavirus are more susceptible to lose their life, provided they have additional health issues like low blood pressure, asthma, and other bronchitis problems.

Have a look at the very recent data of the total number of deaths and infections due to this novel Covid-19 infection (At time: March 17, 2020, 10:44 GMT)

 

Source website- https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

Now look at the new data (At time:  March 17, 2020, 12:30 GMT) i.e. In only after 134 minutes, 295 deaths worldwide had been recorded due to the coronavirus.

Source website- https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

So, very, unfortunately, people are losing their life at a rapid rate. But people are also recovering in large numbers per time unit, as we can see in the above data.

At the time of writing this article (Thursday, March 19, 2020, 08:22 GMT), let us see the newest data below-

We can guess how severe this pandemic is…, however, social distancing is the key to fight against this temporary outbreak.

Origin TIMELINE of COVID-19 disease caused by novel Coronavirus-

Source- https://panopto.lshtm.ac.uk/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=83ba0783-b1ce-4053-aaa5-ab6600da76d8

1. Around 29th December 2019, pneumonia cases were linked with the HUANAN Seafood Wholesale market.

2. The authorities started tracing of the pneumonia cases

3. Outbreak announced by Global health authorities

4. The HUANAN Seafood Wholesale market was closed on 02nd Jan2020

5. On 06 Jan 2020- China’s Level 2 emergency response was activated

6. China CDC (Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention) formally announced that the causative organism for the outbreak was a NOVEL CORONAVIRUS.

7. On 10 Jan 2020, China CDC publically shared the gene Sequence of this novel coronavirus and shared publically with the world. So, by obtaining the gene sequence, many vaccine manufacturing companies started their work on a fast track.

8. On 13th Jan 2020, the first confirmed case of Coronavirus outside China, i.e. in Thailand was reported.

9. The highest level 1 Emergency response was activated by the China CDC.

10. Entry and exit mass screening started

11. As of now, on March 19, 2020, 15:15 GMT, there is total of 9,377 worldwide deaths. Please see the reference on Worldometers.info-  https://prnt.sc/rj3kll

 

Symptoms of COVID-19

 

As per the WHO website https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses, 

The most common symptoms are-

1. Fever

2. Tiredness

3. Dry cough

Also, some patients may have

  • Aches & pains
  • Nasal congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Diarrhea

According to WHO, most of the infected patients (80%) get recovered on their own.

How COVID-19 spreads (As per WHO)?

 

When a sick person coughs or exhales, the droplets from mouth or nose containing the coronavirus may infect the nearby healthy person.

If these droplets land on any object like on a metro seat handle, and the healthy person touches them, & again touches his eyes, nose or mouth…then he may be infected.

This disease mainly spreads through contact with respiratory droplets and not through the air.

How to reduce our chances of being infected or spreading COVID-19 ( As per WHO):

 

1. Wash regularly your hands with soap and water. It is the best way to kill the viruses.

If you have options of using an alcohol-based sanitizer, it is also effective, but not better than the Soap + Water combination.

Hand disinfection procedure according to the German standard DIN EN 1500, Source- Wikipedia commons

 

2. We should maintain at least 1-meter distance with someone who is sneezing or coughing. During sneezing, we must cover our mouth and nose with a handkerchief or with or bent elbow. Also, avoid touching eyes, mouth and nose.

A man in mid-sneeze. Original CDC caption: “This 2009 photograph captured a sneeze in progress, revealing the plume of salivary droplets as they are expelled in a large cone-shaped array from this man’s open mouth, thereby dramatically illustrating the reason one needs to cover his/her mouth when coughing, or sneezing, in order to protect others from germ exposure.” – Wikimedia commons

 

3. We should stay at home if we are feeling unwell.

If we have a fever, difficulty breathing and cough, we should seek medical attention immediately.

People who have visited recently areas in which Coronavirus outbreak is spreading should :

 

Self-isolate by staying at home, if they begin to feel unwell, even with little symptoms like headache, low-grade fever (37.3 C or above) and little runny nose, until they recover.

 

According to the World Health Organisation official statement, the WHO is still getting information on how the disease affects people of different age groups like children, middle-aged people, and more specifically the old age people having additional diseases like heart diseases, high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes or lung diseases.

 

No Antibiotic use in COVID-19 ??

Antibiotics are used to treat infections caused by bacteria. But COVID-19 disease is only caused by the newly emerged Coronavirus, so antibiotics can not be used to treat the viral infections just like COVID-19. (Source- WHO precautions)

 

The incubation period of COVID-19-

According to the WHO website, the Incubation period is defined as the time interval between the exposure of the virus and getting the symptoms of that related disease. Around 1-14 days is the estimated incubation period according to the WHO.

 

 

FOUR Stages of the CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK

 

The four stages of this COVID-19 disease outbreak by Coronavirus is explained below-

 

1. STAGE 1- IMPORTED CASES

In this stage, the virus is transmitted by people traveling abroad. It is the initial stage of the outbreak. For example, In India, the imported cases are believed to be brought by a few Italian tourists who later tested positive for COVID-19.

 

2. STAGE 2- LOCAL TRANSMISSION

When local people come in contact with the infected person who has the travel history to the country which is affected by the coronavirus, this situation is called the second stage.

 

3. STAGE 3- COMMUNITY TRANSMISSION

Now a number of local people will get infected from the already infected people from the second stage. Here, a large scale spread of the virus takes place.

 

4. STAGE 4- EPIDEMIC

This is the worst case and the last case if the outbreak. This happened in China where large masses of the population were infected and there was an exponential rise in the number of confirmed cases for COVID-19 caused by the Coronavirus. In this stage, the Army needs to be called to handle the crisis, not the local police. the local police are told to handle serious crimes and the Army takes charge of the EPIDEMIC situation.

 

IT IS BETTER TO STOP THE SPREAD IN STAGE 2 OR 3, TO AVOID MASS SPREAD IN STAGE 4

 

Several steps are taken by the Governments to stop the virus in 2nd or third stage-

1. Quarantine- If anyone is coming from countries affected by the COVID-19 coronavirus, then he must be sent to Quarantine for 14 days, whether he is showing the symptoms or not.

 

2. Contact tracing- If the infected person is tested positive, then all people whom he has met till now are traced and put to surveillance. If they show any symptoms or the test comes positive, they too are quarantined.

 

3. Stopping Mass gathering- Large gatherings can be a fault point because it is very easy for the community spread in such large gatherings because people then return to different localities and spread there exponentially.

 

4. Awareness- Good respiratory and hygiene etiquettes must be promoted among the general public.

 

5. Preparation- Scaling up infrastructure, testing facilities for COVID-19 disease, enough isolation wards for infected people.

 

INCUBATION PERIOD OF FEW INFECTIOUS DISEASES-

 

VIRUS NAME INCUBATION PERIOD
Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) 2-14 or 0-24 days
SARS 2-7 days (As long as 10 days)
MERS 5 days (Range 1-14)
SWINE FLU

 

 

SEASONAL FLU

2 days (1-4 days range)

 

 

2-4 days

 What about the vaccine of COVID-19?

 

Vaccine for Covid-19 caused by Coronavirus is not available till now.

The functioning of a Vaccine-

Suppose a patient John has tested positive for the Covid-19. It means John’s immune system was not able to fight against this novel coronavirus when it entered into his body.

More specifically saying, the body has antibodies that have a very good memory. Once they meet any disease-causing virus for the first time, they fight it and also memorize its coding to remember it when it attacks next time after the body is cured from the first attack of the virus.

So, if the virus attacks the second time in the same body, the body now already has the antibody developed which recognizes this virus and then it tries to kill the virus by interacting with its protein.

However, 3-4 mainstream biotech companies are fighting against time to get the vaccine for Coronavirus.

One of the biotech company, Moderna.

According to Wikipedia, “Moderna, Inc. is a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based biotechnology company that is focused on drug discovery and drug development based on messenger RNA (mRNA).[Reference] The company creates synthetic mRNA that can be injected into patients to help them create their own therapies.”

Moderna is making the Covid-19 vaccine by using the mRNA (messenger RNA), unlike the traditional way in which the DNA based vaccines are manufactured.

mRNA based treatments for viruses is very fast and also the clinical trials for risk assessment of the prepared vaccine takes very less time as compared to its DNA based vaccine counterpart.

Vaccine preparation and clinical trials take years of work Image_Source- Canva.com

The whole world is eagerly waiting for the vaccine. Many countries have invested hugely in different vaccine companies around the world.

Recently, Moderna has started the clinical trial by administering the vaccine into the first healthy individual.

Please read this short article by New York Times-

Trial of Coronavirus Vaccine Made by Moderna Begins in Seattle

Have a look at this youtube video from the CNN youtube NEWS channel.

 

We all wait for the normalcy in this outbreak, until then …..Be safe, Wash hands regularly, report to hospitals if symptoms arise and most importantly, be patient until the new yellow sunrise overtakes this viral mistful dusky night …

 

 

Reference-

1. https://www.bioworld.com/articles/355400-moderna-makes-entrance-with-40m-round-for-mrna-work?v=preview

2. https://panopto.lshtm.ac.uk/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=83ba0783-b1ce-4053-aaa5-ab6600da76d8

3. https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses

4. https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

5. https://www.fool.com/investing/2020/03/11/will-moderna-make-a-fortune-off-its-coronavirus-va.aspx

6. https://www.modernatx.com/mrna-technology/science-and-fundamentals-mrna-technology

7. http://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2015/rna-vaccines-a-novel-technology-to-prevent-and-treat-disease/

8. https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/


 

 

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