In December 2019, a cluster of pneumonia cases appeared in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China but the cause was unknown.
Scientists suspected something novel, this was not due to the bacteria as previously thought but a novel virus.
WHAT IS CORONAVIRUS?
Corona in Latin means crown. Under the electron microscope, the virus capsid or outer layer looks like a crown and thus, the name of the virus. Coronaviruses belong to the Coronaviridae family.
Coronaviridae is a family of enveloped, single-stranded, positive-sense RNA virus. The total length of the genome is around 30 Kb.
Novel coronavirus also known as 2019-nCOV or simply called coronavirus by people. The virus outer layer or envelope is made up of lipids having a diameter of approximately 80nm and the spikes present on its surface are around 20nm in length.
These spikes are made up of spike glycoprotein (S protein) helping the virus bind to the receptor of susceptible cells. Other proteins like M and E proteins are involved in the formation of the virus envelope, while the N protein is involved in the virus assembly
- On January 30 2020, World Health Organization announced that the novel corona virus pneumonia epidemic caused by 2019-nCOV was classified as a public health emergency of international concern.
- On February 11 2020, the virus was named severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus2 or SARS-CoV-2 by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses(ICTV).
SARS-CoV-2 is the seventh member of the coronavirus family that can infect humans following the emergence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus or SARS-CoV and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus or MERS-CoV.
Disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 was named coronavirus disease 2019 or in short COVID-19.
TOTAL NUMBER OF CASES
Globally, as of 8:13 CEST, 15 May 2020, there have been 4,347,935 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 297,241 deaths, reported to WHO.
The most common symptoms include fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some people might feel aches and pain, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat, or diarrhea.
Symptoms could be mild and begin gradually. Some people might show no signs of disease and might feel well, whereas in some it becomes severe and the infected might feel problem in breathing.
Most people (around 80%) recover as the disease is still progressing the actual percentage might differ over time.
It can affect people of all ages. However, some people are more prone to catch this virus and develop serious complications like older people, individual with a compromised immune system, and those underlying medical problems like Diabetes, High blood pressure, heart problems, etc.
Incubation period for COVID-19
“Incubation period” means the time between getting infected with the virus and beginning to have symptoms of the disease.
It also means during this period the infected person can spread the virus to others. It commonly ranges from 2-14 days.
BASIC REPRODUCTION NUMBER R0
R0 describes the average number of new infections that an infected person can spread in a population that was not previously exposed to the virus.
R0 greater than one suggests that the number of infected people is likely to grow, whereas an R0 of less than one suggests that the viral transmission is likely to die out.”
WHO suggested an R0 of 1.4–2.5 for COVID-19. But some studies suggest otherwise.
Rocklöv and his team of researchers in Sweden conducted a final number of 12 studies. Studies they selected estimated basic R0 for the virus in China and overseas which ranged from 1.4 to 6.49 and had an average of 3.28 and a median of 2.79.
The main route of transmission is respiratory droplets, which could be transmitted through coughing and sneezing and people can also be infected by coming into contact with things contaminated with virus droplets. This virus is not airborne and can not remain in the air for long and settles down on the surface.
Etiology of SARS-CoV-2(Origin)
Coronavirus is not new to the world. The first reported coronavirus was isolated from chickens in1937. Human coronaviruses were first identified in the mid-1960s.
Coronaviridae family is divided in four genera: α, β, γ, and δ. Coronaviruses of the α and β generally infect mammals and humans, while γ and δ genera mainly infect birds.
SARS-CoV-2 is a novel coronavirus of the β genus; with a diameter of approximately 60–140nm and a crown-shaped appearance under an electron microscope.
Detection and diagnosis
Detection of SARS-CoV-2 is done using reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction or in short Rt-PCR. Immunoglobulin M(IgM) and IgG antibody detection reagents and SARS-CoV-2 antigen detection has been also applied for its diagnosis. CT SCAN is also used but it has less sensitivity.
How dangerous Novel coronavirus is (virulence)?
Compared with the previous two epidemics (SARS and MERS), the fatality rate is lower and approximately 2-3% in COVID-19. However, the case fatality rate of SARS and MERS was 10% and 34% respectively.
Currently, there is no vaccine. There is no drug available that can cure COVID-19 but research is being conducted on the drugs which shows some promise.
Hydroxy Chloroquine, Vitamin C, and Chinese medicine, as well as Lopinavir/Ritonavir combination therapy and Remedesevir, are being evaluated in the laboratories. Treatment is basically supportive.
SIMILARITY OF NOVEL CORONAVIRUS
The animal reservoir of the virus has not been identified but the genome of SARS-CoV-2 is 98% similar to bat coronavirus, 79% similar to SARS, and 50% similar to MERS. This novel coronavirus is identified as a member of the beta-coronavirus genus and can bind to the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 receptors in humans.
How to prevent further spread
Slow epidemic vs fast epidemic:
There are two basic types of pandemic, one that is slow and the other which is fast or rapid.
A fast pandemic means, more and more people are getting infected during a short course of time and it reaches such an extent that medical support is overrun, which means there is less availability of hospitals, beds, doctors, medical supplies.
Also meaning the doctors, nurses, and medical staff, themselves getting sick, which puts more weight on the already intense situation. This means Researchers also have to work on drugs, treatments, and vaccines in a very short amount of time.
The overall situation becomes critical
A fast epidemic can be slowed down if effective measures could be taken like slowing the spread of the virus and stopping the chain of transmission. A slow pandemic means there are medical resources inadequate supply and a slowed spread of a disease, which means more time for the researchers to work on it and less load on Medical staff.
THERE ARE TWO SIMPLE THINGS TO FOLLOW
Do not get sick and Do not spread!
Even if someone thinks he has a very good immune system and he is young and can not catch the virus but It is not the case.
Although some individuals might be asymptomatic meaning they are not showing the symptoms of this disease but they can still spread the disease. So, it is our responsibility to take preventive measures like social distancing and self-quarantine.
What are the do’s and don’ts?
- Wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds as the soap dissolves the outer layer or envelope made up of lipids and thus disrupting it.
- Do not touch your face, nose or eyes as the virus might enter from these places.
- Avoid contact with sick people
- Self-quarantine yourself if you feel sick and contact your medical provider immediately.
- Do not handshake.
- Maintain a minimum distance of 1 meter from a person
- Follow social distancing.
- Follow the guidelines issued by your government.
- Lastly, do not panic! If you are in quarantine we know its not a good experience, but rather think of it like a duty of being a common species you are protecting others like you.