Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic- Everything You Should Know

As the contagious respiratory disease, now also known as 2019 novel coronavirus, continues to wreak havoc around the globe it is time to take a look at everything we know about the virus so far, so we can protect ourselves and the most vulnerable members of the society.

What is Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

COVID-19 is caused by a coronavirus that is genetically similar to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus).

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that have been found in both humans and animals that commonly cause mild airway inflammation. More serious cases have previously been caused by SARS and MERS coronaviruses. The SARS-CoV-2 virus is genetically similar to the SARS coronavirus.

Where Did it Come From?

All that we know thus far is that the first infected people were related to the Wuhan live animal and seafood market, but the exact source of the infection is not yet known.

How Does the Coronavirus Spread?

The virus spreads from person to person through a drop infection. The incubation period of the virus is about 2-14 days, with an average of 5 days.

What is the Current Situation?

The disease has spread to more than 157 countries, including US, Canada, and all European countries. It appears to be more under control in Asian countries and China, where the disease originated from. However, no country thus far has eradicated the disease. (March 16, 2020)

Does Coronavirus Behave Similarly in All Countries?

This is very difficult to estimate at the moment, mostly because the number of tests carried out on the general population in different countries varies greatly. In South Korea, there have been more than 250,000 tests carried out compared to only 4000 in the US (March 16, 2020).

When people with milder symptoms are undiagnosed the statistical figures get skewed.

How Deadly is the Coronavirus?

Worldwide, the estimated mortality rate is 3.4% -3.7%, which varies greatly from country to country. It seems to depend primarily on the age structure of the patients – 0.6% in South Korea where only 3.2% of those infected are over 80 years old, to 6.8% in Italy (with 21.4% of those infected were over 80 years old).

It is believed that, in general, that the mortality is within the 1% range and it seems that the higher mortality rate is not liked to poorer health care services, rather than less frequent testing of patients with milder symptoms.

Are Men More Likely to Die from Coronavirus?

Data from most countries available to date indicate that male mortality is approximately twice as high as female mortality. In South Korea, the mortality rate is 1.27% for men and 0.57% for women, compared to 4.7% for men and 2.8% for women in China.

Which Age Groups is at Most Risk?

Mortality increases significantly with age. In the case of Italy, there have been only 1-2 deaths recorded among those under 50, with a mortality rate of 0.2% among those aged 50-59; 2.5% for 60-69-year-olds; 6.4% for 70-79-year-olds and 13.2% for over 80-year-olds. Similar data is also available in China and South Korea. It is also important to note that many of those who have died had pre-existing serious illnesses.

How Long Does Coronavirus Live on Surfaces?

This week, a study came out that showed that the virus remains alive and well on various surfaces for up to 48-72 hours. It is important to note that the amount of virus decreased significantly during this time. However, it should be remembered that the virus is still transmitted by humans because the virus can only replicate in the presence of human cells.

Are Asymptomatic People a Source of Infection?

There is very little research on this, and it is also difficult to carry out. However, it has been described that those who are infected emit high amounts of virus 1 day before the onset of the disease symptoms (no previous data are available) and it is reported that the person can infect others before he or she develops the disease symptoms.

Can Coronavirus be Treated with Lopinavir/Ritonavir?

Even though initial news regarding the treatment of coronavirus patients with Lopinavir/Ritonavir (HIV medications) indicated that there may have been some hope of recovery there has been no proof of that.

Also, a study published this week in China comparing patients who received lopinavir / ritonavir with those who did not, found no difference in the rate at which the virus was excreted or in the outcome, which was death.

How Long Does the Coronavirus Outbreak Last?

The fact is that no one knows for sure. No country is permanently free of new cases. In China, the outbreak has lasted from December 2019 (at least 3 months). SARS lasted from November to May before the virus finally disappeared (7 months). The best guess estimate is 4-8 months at the moment.