Another Corona Virus

By | February 27, 2020

Some viruses can be some of the most lethal “enemies” that infect humans.
As living entities they are bestowed with genetic material which can change (mutate) over time, giving them different characteristics and capabilities.
That is what happened with the current Corona virus from Wuhan China.
There are countless numbers of viruses out there that are unable to infect humans. We never hear of them, unless they change (mutate) and acquire the capability to infect us ( “jump” to humans).
Once they do the following factors are of paramount importance:
1. Antiviral treatment is difficult to come by. Unlike antibiotics which work well for bacteria, the corollary for viruses is not very good and takes years to develop even with expeditious prioritization. That is why the experts are trying to develop a vaccine which can help prevent spread to uninflected individuals, and takes less time to develop(although still one to one and a half years with the best of science and luck).
2. The mode of viral transmission is very important, because generally the most dangerous route is by aerosolized particles in the air, mostly from coughing, which can spread person to person. The common cold is the example of this type of transmission/spread. So far this Corona virus appears to spread in this fashion, but the degree and ease are still to be established. But the fact that it does is obviously of considerable concern.
3. Infectivity of the virus describes the likelihood an individual becomes infected by the virus when exposed, even if no or only mild symptoms develop. This too is being assessed currently.
4. Severity of illness describes if individuals become ill and if so how severely sick they can get. There does appear to be a full spectrum of degree of illness with this Corona virus from perhaps no apparent illness to mild and severe, and a death rate(mortality rate) which appears to be between 2 and 3%. Compared to the less than one percent mortality rate with the “flu” ( Influenza). Additionally, mortality rates seem to be highest in the elderly and those with significant underlying medical diseases, like Influenza. Younger and healthy individuals are less likely to be severely ill or die from this viral infection.
5. Does the virus “go away” spontaneously with the change of season. Influenza does with seasonal warming, Corona viruses do not historically seem to do so. So this is quite concerning since the process is not self-limiting.
6. This is the third Corona virus in thirty years to acquire the ability to infect humans(“jump”) a quality somewhat unique to this “Family” of viruses. The two other prior Corona viruses were SARS and MERS, were also “respiratory” viruses, meaning they also gained entrance into humans via our upper respiratory tract and descended into our lungs to produce varying degrees of pneumonia, the most lethal form of the illness, before possible spread to others parts of the body.
7. The medical and world health communities are much more capable of handling viral outbreaks like this over the last twenty years. China did a very good job of identifying and responding to this “novel”(newly behaving) virus. They are being commended for their actions and openness. The fact that the virus is spreading to and within the rest of the world is not unexpected, but of obvious concern, and a pandemic may yet develop.
8. These are some of the evolving facts about this viral threat. We need to be vigilant, not overreact, and listen to and follow the advice of the experts in the field. We have the best and they know what to do. No politics in this endeavor, peoples lives are on the line.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *