CoVID-19: The Roots, Truth & Tools to Survive
Updated: Apr 15, 2020
Editor’s note: There is still a lot that we do not know about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) that is altering life as we know it in the world today. Research and results are progressive, but here are some scientific facts that we know so far.
Ebola we know, the Flu we know, CoVID-19 we don’t fully know yet.
The novel coronavirus infects people of every country, creed, color and age group.
Don’t panic! Tbh, you could survive the virus, but your parent, child or neighbor might not.
There are safe and effective guidelines that work. Follow the CDC.
What is a Coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that mostly affect bats, pigs, civets and some other small mammals. Looking at the virus, it has spikes around its surface that makes it seem like a round ball with a crown on it, hence the nomenclature (corona…).
The fascinating feature of this family of viruses is how quickly they mutate (take on new form) and jump from animals to humans. These kinds of diseases that jump from animals to humans are also known as zoonotic diseases. According to the CDC, there are seven strains of the coronavirus that affect humans today. While four of them only cause a common cold, three others are ranked as some of the deadliest infectious diseases in the world.
Coronaviruses attack the human respiratory tracts. The earliest of the deadliest coronavirus strains is the "severe acute respiratory syndrome" (SARS) discovered in 2002; and the second is strain the “Middle East respiratory syndrome” (MERS) discovered in 2012. The third is novel to us and is referred to as the “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2”, or SARS-CoV-2, and the disease it causes is referred to as CoVID-19 (the number indicates the year it was discovered, 2019).
Are coronaviruses a Chinese disease?
The CDC has a strong policy not to name any disease after a geographical location. It can be misleading and also leads to unnecessary stigmatization. According to the situation reports from the World Health Organization (WHO) on the novel coronavirus, in December of 2019 there were cases of patients who had pneumonia of an unknown etiology (cause) in Wuhan city, Hubei Province of China.
Wuhan, a city of about 11million people, quickly became the epicenter of the virus with most cases and deaths being reported from there. There are reports that, like SARS, SARS-CoV-2 likely originated from a wet market and in this case, the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan. This is a market where seafood and meat are sold, and wild animals (like marmots, civets, bats, snakes) are illegally traded. Other reports have countered this assumption saying that the disease did not originate from Wuhan. What we know is that virologists were able to determine that SARS originated from bats and found its way to human hosts in China after infecting some civet cats. MERS also originated from bats but had camels as its intermediate host before jumping to humans. As for SARS-CoV-2, scientists are not yet conclusive on its source, but it's structure and behavior makes us certain that it also originated from bats, not from the Chinese.
How does CoVID-19 spread among humans?
The phrase to remember is “respiratory droplets”. These are the liquids that are released when an infected person sneezes, coughs or even talks. The Harvard University Coronavirus Resource Center reports that these droplets can survive in the air for about 3-4 hours.
SARS-CoV-2 survives longer on harder surfaces - 4hrs on copper, 24hrs on cardboard, and 2-3 days on plastic and stainless steel. We can get infected when we come in contact with these respiratory droplets either directly or indirectly, and touch places like our mouth, nose, or eyes. This is why the easiest way for the virus to spread is when there is close contact and gatherings between humans.
Best practices to help you stay safe
The CDC outlines these points in more details:
Wash your hands with soap and water as frequently as possible.
Where there is no soap and water, use a hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol.
Avoid touching mouth, nose and eyes with unwashed hands.
Stay home (or quarantined) if you feel sick to avoid spreading
Sneeze and cough into your elbow (not hands)
Clean and disinfect your surroundings as frequently as possible
Do not panic, more people survive CoVID-19 than are killed by it. If you have a pre-existing condition that might have had your immune system compromised, work closely with your doctors as people are working hard to make sure that more lives are saved than lost to CoVID-19.
Stay safe, stay positive!