The Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is a severe acute respiratory disease. The term COVID-19 was derived from its name and year when it was identified. COVID stands for Coronavirus disease, the 19 is attached to specify the year being 2019 when it was first identified, this is to properly differentiate it from other Coronavirus.
The outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic began in Wuhan, China and was identified December 2019. Since then its spread has been rapid and random, and in a matter of months has reached over 200 countries. The Virus was recognized as a pandemic on 11 March 2020 and as at 11 April 2020 there is more than 1.6 million recorded cases of COVID-19 resulting in over 102,000 deaths, with over 376,000 recoveries so far.
This outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has forced most countries into an indefinite lockdown. This means everyone is mandated to remain indoors, no parties, no football matches, no school, virtually anything that would warrant a gathering of people is being suspended. This was the first precautionary measure taken by the government of countries to curb the spread of the virus ever since it was identified to be highly contagious.
This brings us to the most asked questions;
How does the COVID-19 work ?
COVID-19 is a virus and viruses are microscopic infectious agents, they need living cells of an organism in order to live and replicate. A virus can affect all forms of life, ranging from animals and plants, down to microorganisms like bacteria, Archaea etc.
Viruses are very small in size 20 – 30 nm (nanometers), making them smaller than bacteria, more smaller than blood cells and skin cells.
They contain nucleic acid (DNA or RNA) which has given scientists and researchers the idea that viruses are or could be a life form which has existed before the Cenozoic era.
They are metabolically inert because they do not possess enzymes required for replication, making them parasitic. In order to survive and replicate, they need host organisms, they affect the nucleus of cells attacking the nucleic acid of the host organism, using it as a mechanism for replicating itself and spreading.
Viruses can spread from one organism to another through body fluids, droplets, faeces and can be highly contagious.
From the structure of the Coronavirus, it is about 80 – 120 nm is size, we can say it possesses features that allows it stick to the human cells more strongly and more readily making it efficient in infecting cells through the airways.
The virus is like a ball with proteins called spike proteins on its surface. These spike proteins recognize and latch onto proteins found on the surface of our cells called ACE2, like a key fitting into a lock. This is its first step in spreading.
When it infects the cells in the airways, it replicates, causing the cell to die. When the dying cells slough off the airways, they carry the virus down into the lungs where it further infects the lungs causing problems for people who are infected making it more difficult to breathe.
Why is the Coronavirus spreading successfully?
The reason behind the rapid spread of this virus is that it has a long incubation period of about 14 days, between first infecting and causing symptoms, during which it is able to transmit to a new host. This means it has the capacity to spread before the symptoms manifest, giving it the time to move within a country and around the world before we can understand or track where it is.
Why are older people more likely to be affected?
The Coronavirus is not restricted to any particular age grade. Recent findings has it that it more often affects older people from ages 60 and above which could be or is as a result of the decrease in the strength of the body’s immune system in older people. The older one gets, the more susceptible one is to contracting diseases.
Also those with records of heart related diseases are usually more affected, since the virus is a respiratory related disease causing agent. This is why we are advised to take fruits and vegetables, these help in building the body’s immune system.
Is there a cure?
Hopefully in the near future we will find a cure for the COVID-19. What we have presently are already existing drugs that have proven to suppress or control the virus spread, but they are not a 100% guaranteed to cure the virus. Some infected people have recovered by taking precautionary measures such as isolating oneself to avoid spread, eating fruits as they are rich in antioxidants, drinking warm or slightly hot water, avoiding cold food and cold things as the virus thrives in cold environment etc.
Will this pandemic end?
Everything that has a beginning has an end, so YES it will end. When, I can’t say. But for now, follow all precautions to avoid further spread.
Author: Emmanuel Orindu