Is coronavirus a myth? In fact, if there is a time when one may start questioning everything; his own existence and even basic knowledge on things, that time could be now. With the current coronavirus pandemic ravaging the world in general, many people have started questioning everything, even the educated in the society now questions everything and argues like laymen. The common questions asked are; what is coronavirus? How does the virus behave? If there is no cure, how come people are recovering from the virus? Does the virus actually exist? Why are we not seeing pictures or videos of the patients? And so on. Well, let’s lay bare everything, and try as much as possible to clear the doubts and answer the above stated questions.
WHAT IS CORONAVIRUS?
Let’s start by saying that coronavirus is not a myth but are large family of viruses that causes various forms of illness such as common cough, and more sever coughs like the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and others. Coronaviruses are known to have one thing in common, they are mostly zoonotic i.e they are transmitted from animals to humans.
Investigations found that the SARS-CoV was transmission from civet cats to humans around 2002, while the MERS-CoV was transmitted from dromedary camels to humans in 2012 in Saudi Arabia. So it’s safe to assume that the current Covid-19 pandemic was also transmitted from animals to humans though there is no proof to back this up as at today. There are several known Coronaviruses circulating in animals that have not yet been transmitted to humans, and it is believed that if more investigation is done, we are likely to identify more coronaviruses in animals.
WHAT IS COVID-19?
Covid-19 simply means coronavirus diseases. The “19” indicates the year it was discovered which is 2019. Covid-19 is the latest and current strain of coronavirus ravaging the whole world. It was first detected in the Wuhan region of China in December 2019 though many believes it surfaced earlier before December. The actual origin of the virus is still a subject of debate, but Covid-19 just like other coronavirus strains that have hit the world in the past is an infectious disease.
Covid-19 is flu-like and the two most common symptoms are fever and dry cough, other symptoms include fatigue, nasal congestion, aches and pains. More severe cases could lead to serious respiratory diseases and pneumonia. The high risk people are the elderly and people with underlying health issues such as diabetes and heart problems. As at 27th of March statistics shows that about 14.7% of people infected with the virus above 80years died, while about 0.4% of infected people between the ages of 40-49 died, and no recorded death from children below the age of 9 yet. It is expected that these figures will change as the pandemic spreads across countries due to varying conditions and available health care facilities.
Researches carried out so far indicates that the virus spreads from person to person through respiratory droplets that comes out when a person sneezes. These droplets might land on people’s body or surfaces enabling the transmission. There are evidence that suggests that Covid-19 virus can last for 3 days on plastic and metal surfaces. This explains why people are encouraged to wash their hands regularly with soap and running water or with alcohol based hand sanitizers and also keep distance from people who are symptomatic.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), people who are meant to wear face masks are people who are symptomatic or people looking after sick people, meaning if you are fine, it is not necessary that you wear masks, but it is imperative that people apply additional safety measures. It is worthy of note, for all intents and purposes that the most effective and efficient safety measure is to observe social distancing.
Though it could be argued that the Covid-19 virus is not as fatal as other coronaviruses with the average death rate being 4.4% which is much lower than the 10% fatality rate for SARS and around 30% for MERS, it doesn’t mean the virus is not dangerous. Since it spreads so fast, it means the more infected persons, the more likely people are to die.
WHAT IS A NOVEL CORONAVIRUS VIRUS?
A novel coronavirus like the Covid-19 is a virus that has no previous record of infection in humans, though it may have been previously recorded in animals. Since the Covid-19 is a novel virus, it is likely that there are still “rough edges” in terms of what we know about this virus. For any novel coronavirus, there is usually no vaccines and the development of a vaccine might take years to materialize.
HOW CAN A NOVEL CORONAVIRUS BE TREATED?
Well, there is no specific treatment for a novel coronavirus disease, the best that can be done is to treat most of the symptoms that goes with it based on the condition of the patient and supportive care of patients can be key in such situations.
As at today, there is no vaccine for Covid-19 though there are at least 45 possible vaccines currently being developed across the world. How come people are being treated and discharged? You may ask, fine! The common practice now is the administration of antiviral vaccines like that of HIV so as to suppress the effectiveness of the virus while treating other symptoms that goes with the virus separately, and at the same time applying immune boosters to the patient. A combination of these treatments coupled with the patient’s immune system have so far shown signs of effectiveness in fighting the virus.
Chloroquine a popular antimalarial drug is also being used in treating the virus. Scientists are also exploring the option of using blood plasma of recovered patients in treating the virus as it is believed that those plasma may contain valuable proteins that could be useful in the treatment of patients. According to WHO, 80% of people with the Covid-19 recover without needing to go to the hospital, but one in every six cases becomes severe. Let’s not forget to mention that antibiotics has no effect on viruses as they are meant for treating bacterial diseases and infections.
THE ROLE OF VENTILATORS IN THE TREATMENT
A ventilator is a machine that helps or takes over the process of breathing in a patient when the lungs fails as a result of an infection or disease. It helps by giving the patient more time to fight off the infection and possibly aid the recovery process. In the case of Covid-19, ventilators are only required by patients whose cases have become severe. In severe cases, the virus causes lung damage thereby causing a drastic drop in the body’s oxygen level which will result in difficulty in breathing for the patient.
To help reduce the suffering of the patient, a ventilator is used to push air with increased oxygen level into the patient’s lungs. A ventilator also comes with a humidifier which is meant to add heat and moisture in the air supply so that it will match with the patient’s body temperature.
Patients are usually given medication to relax the respiratory muscles so that the machine can take full control of the patient’s respiration. Patients with mild symptoms are usually given a “non-invasive” ventilation, this type of ventilation is done using face masks, nasal masks or mouthpieces. These allows air or oxygen mixture to be pushed into the lungs, and they do not require internal tubes.
WHY NAMES AND PICTURES OF PATIENTS ARE NOT MADE PUBLIC?
The names and pictures of Covid-19 patients are not usually made public by the government and it’s agencies. This is a standard medical practice all over the world and part of the “patients confidentiality”practice which is an ethic of the medical profession. Secondly, it is also a way of protecting patients from inherent social stigmatization that may proceed their survival because people may not wish to associate with any person they know to have contacted the virus in the past due to the fear of the unknown. So, it is safe to give the patients as much protection as possible. As we all know, social stigmatization can lead to depression and depression could result to mental issue or suicide as the case may be.
* Coronavirus is not new to humans, rather Covid-19 is.
* There is no vaccine for Covid-19 yet, and it might take a long time before a potential vaccine arrives.
* Covid-19 is not the most fatal of all known human coronavirus cases.
* The virus can last as much as 3 days on surfaces made of plastic or metal.
* Wash your hands regularly with soap, running water and alcohol based hand sanitizers especially after touching surfaces.
* Social distancing remains the best safety measure.
* A non infected person wearing face mask is not really necessary but might be helpful
* Ventilators are only necessary for severe cases only.
*Coronavirus is not a myth.