The outbreak of COVID-19 that began in Hubei province of China was officially categorized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a pandemic on March 10, 2020. At the time of writing this piece there have been over 197,000 cases and 8,000 deaths with a total of 164 countries and territories around the world and 1 international conveyance (the Diamond Princess cruise ship harbored in Yokohama, Japan) being affected.
Transmission & Comparisons
The transmission rate of COVID-19 owes its potency to the main medium through which it travels: air. The worst pandemic in the last century was the 1918 influenza pandemic resulting in approximately 100 million deaths. Until this moment, there has never been a global pandemic that has resulted from any strain of Coronavirus, however, there has been regional epidemics. This includes Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) which had a 10% and 34% mortality rate respectively.
Studies are still ongoing as it relates to COVID-19 with early data showing a high mortality of 11% and ICU admission rates of 23%. An earlier study described a virus pathology with an eight-day incubation period, a week of infection followed by a potential escalation to hospitalization and intensive care over another 8 to 10 days.
Similarities to other Virus
COVID-19 is a newly discovered strain from the Coronavirus family that causes respiratory infection. However, humans have long been infected by Coronavirus as it is one of the viruses responsible for the common cold. It is a contagious viral infection spread through inhalation or ingestion of viral droplets as a result coughing and sneezing as well as touching infected surfaces.
The structure of Coronavirus has several parts. Inside the virus lies the genetic encoding that allows the virus to intrude human cells. A protein encapsulates the genetic material known as the viral envelope. On the surface of the virion are ‘S’ and ‘HE’ proteins. The structure of COVID-19 is a mutation. The large ‘S’ glycoproteins are theorized to be used by the virus to gain entry to human cells. They are likely attached to Angiotensin Converting Enzyme 2 Receptors on the cell membrane allowing the virus entry. It is theorized that the human cell ingests the virus in a process known as endocytosis. Once inside the cytoplasm, the endosome opens to reveal the virus’ genetic material, a single-stranded RNA. The virus intrudes the cell’s machinery to replicate the ‘RNA’ and ‘N’ proteins and uses the endoplasmic reticulum to form its ‘M’ protein outer layer and the crucial ‘S’ protein. After replication, the virus is carried by the Golgi bodies out of the cell in a process known as exocytosis, so that it can infect other cells. Meanwhile, the stress of viral production on the endoplasmic reticulum eventually leads to apoptosis, or cell death.
Prevention & Treatment
There is currently no cure or vaccine for COVID-19 and treatment is generally supportive in acute cases. The standard recommendations for the prevention and spread of infections are as follow:
- Regular hand washing
- Covering your nose and mouth with a tissue or flexed elbow when sneezing and coughing
- Avoid close contact with people showing signs or symptoms of common illness
- Avoid touching your nose, mouth, and eyes with dirty or unwashed hands
- Practicing general hygiene measures when visiting live animal markets
- Avoid consuming undercooked meat or eggs
In the coming weeks, you might find it quite convenient to use the Yazom App to ensure you maintain your preventative measures as well as monitor other daily targets. In addition, we will be dedicating a section of our website to the COVID-19 fight; more details on this in the coming weeks.
Let us know what you think will be the end result of COVID-19: Will governments now understand that funding health and wellness should be a top priority OR Will they forget about this pandemic once it’s over and business as usual will resume with lopsided investments in weaponry, planetary exploration and wars?
Follow us on twitter: @yazomit
Like us on Facebook: @yazomit
Follow us on Medium: @yazom