COVID 19: Temporary threat or the new enemy of humankind?
The word around us these days is not as it used to be, most of the businesses are inactive and public transportation is limited. These are just two of the many results caused by the pandemic of Covid-19, a virus which was initially identified in December 2019 in Wuhan. After the outbreak of this new virus, the entire scientific community is in a constant search for both its origin and possible treatments.
Covid- 19 belongs to the coronavirus “family”. Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that affect mostly mammals and birds, but if it is transmitted to humankind it causes respiratory tract infections which can be from mild to lethal. Coronaviruses are large pleomorphic(1) spherical particles with bulbous surface projections, and their genome as is common in viruses is single-stranded RNA. Coronaviruses are known to have the ability to transfer from animals to humans, and that’s how scientists believe that Covid-19 started. Wuhan is a city with a population of almost 12 million people with many of them working in food markets in which many species of animals such as marmots, birds, bats and snakes are often sold. Thus, the virus can be easily spread from contact with these animals.
The virus is primarily spread between two or more people during close contact via small droplets produced by talking, sneezing or coughing. Although these droplets are produced when breathing out, they can fall to the ground or on nearby surfaces, rather than remain in the air. People can also be infected by touching a contaminated surface and then touch their face, mouth, nose or eyes. The duration of this virus survival is up to 72 hours and it is most contagious during the first three or four days after the onset of symptoms but spread can happen before and after the symptoms appear. Common symptoms include shortness of breath, fever and cough which are similar to the common flue. Compilations can include pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome. The symptoms can appear within 5 or 14 days after the person is affected from the virus.
Unfortunately, until now there is no vaccine available for Covid-19. Persons that are affected can only be given symptomatic and supportive therapy. The process of developing a vaccine is not easy, especially for a kind of virus that is relatively new to humans. There are many factors that affect the construction of a new vaccine, with the most important being that the experiments both in factories with the use of test animals and in patients that are suffering from the disease. Only when scientists are sure that the vaccine is safe for use in humans, it can be sold in the markets all over the world. Until then, the only way to prevent the spread of this new “invisible enemy” is to follow the protection measures such as regular hand washing and avoid close contact with people who have “suspicious symptoms”. Many organizations and companies are involved in the vaccine development. Five hundred clinical studies worldwide, across all stages of development on vaccine and therapeutic candidates for Covid-19, were registered with the World Health Organization Clinical Trial Registry, as of March 2020.
Corona virus is not a subject that must be taken easily, with over 1,850,220 confirmed cases and many of them being fatal mostly in Italy, Spain, USA and France Covid-19 is a very serious matter. Hopefully scientist will be able to develop a treatment soon, until then we need to be careful and mostly patient.
(1): the ability of some microorganisms to alter their morphology