COVID 19 disease created havoc in the world. Nobody ever expected that such a pandemic would ever happen. This pandemic devastated the economy of almost all nations. Also, it made us accept a new form of lifestyle just to protect us.
In this article, we are going to understand different aspects of COVID -19 and certain terminologies related to it. The main cause of this pandemic is a coronavirus as you all know. Do you know the meaning of pandemic, certainly you may not? Okay, so scientists created a system in which different diseases are classified as per the number of patients and area of spread.
For example, if the disease spread over a particular region with a large number of patients then it termed as EPIDEMIC. A PANDEMIC is an epidemic that’s spread over multiple countries or continents. Similarly, the OUTBREAK event is something in which a sudden increase in endemic cases over the new region, an outbreak can become an epidemic if not controlled properly.
History and Background
The thing which may surprise you that coronavirus is not new and it’s not even a single virus. it’s a whole group of viruses in which many viruses are categorized.
In 2002, the SARS virus infected more than 8 thousand people in which 774 people died all over the world. Since the COVID-19 pathogen is similar to the original SARS virus. The scientific community decided to name it as SARS-Cov-2.
Many viruses belong to the Coronavirus family are not much infectious as compared to SARS or MERS. Some of them show normal symptoms like fever and some can show severe symptoms like pneumonia depending upon the type of virus.
These viruses are existing on earth for millions of years, but the quest for the coronavirus was started in 1936, later in 1967 scientists got to know that there is the whole family of coronavirus which is infecting many animals and birds. As of now, 39 species of coronaviruses have been discovered. Many species of coronaviruses can be seen in bats.
Generally, a particular virus is associated with a specific host but sometimes the virus could infect a new species. This is called a spillover event. Spillover infection is very rare but chances of it occurring can differ between viruses and hosts.
Many factors such as genetic, physiological, immunological factors play an important role in spillover infection. Coronaviruses overcame all the physical barriers which could stop spillover infection. These are RNA virus which could make them evolve quicker than another virus and the unexpected mutation can lead to spillover infection.
Sign and Symptoms
Common symptoms include fever, cough, fatigue, shortness of breath or breathing difficulties, and loss of smell and taste. While most people have mild symptoms, some people develop acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) possibly precipitated by cytokine storm(chemical signal produced by the immune system ), multi-organ failure, septic shock, and blood clots.
The incubation period may range from two to fourteen days. Generally, viruses spread via small droplets from coughing, sneezing. Infection can spread by touching a contaminated surface and then touching the face.
DID YOU KNOW?: Coronavirus can withstand on a copper surface for up to 4 hours, up to 1 day on cardboard, and up to 3 days on steel and plastic.
There are basically 2 types of detection methods that are followed widely. i.e. RT-PCR and serological test. Both of them have their advantages and drawbacks. Let’s discuss both of them in detail.
RT-PCR (reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction)
Forget the complicated name of it, as it simply detects the genetic material of the virus. As I had mentioned earlier that SARS-Cov-2 (coronavirus) is an RNA virus, so basically we convert RNA to DNA then make copies by using PCR.
You must be thinking that what is PCR? Okay, so it is a process of making copies of DNA from a sample. It is considered as one of the most important processes in the field of biotechnology. The final results can be observed visually.
It involves the detection of antibodies, whenever we get infected with a pathogen, our body makes antibodies to fight against it. The presence of an antibody for a particular pathogen shows that our body had been infected before and recovered.
This type of detection is not completely reliable since it can’t detect the active coronavirus in the body. The serological test only checks whether antibodies are present or not. It takes almost 1-3weeks to produce antibodies against coronavirus.
Hence RT-PCR is most widely used to detect any viral infection.
If you wanted to know the exact mechanism of both tests then you may watch the below video.
The vaccine is something that has the ability to activate the immune system without harming the body. Generally, the attenuated virus is used, as of now there no vaccine against COVID 19 but many scientists are working hard to develop.
Related | Vaccine – Introduction, Types & Working
Whenever a virus infects humans, our body starts producing antibodies against it, but this natural process of recovery can be detrimental to the body. In the case of vaccines, attenuated viruses or some components of viruses are used due to which our immune system gets activated. Since the vaccine doesn’t have any live virus, it can’t affect as much as live virus.
Vaccine production is a time-consuming process as it encompasses live pathogens. Many clinical trials are carried out to know the side-effects of the vaccine. Normally vaccine with minimum side effects is considered to be used.
Nature is far more mysterious than we think and COVID-19 is a good example of that. We still need to know a lot of things about Coronavirus. I hope in the near future we would find a way to overcome this coronavirus. Till then happy reading.
The thing which makes him different from others is that thinking out of the box. Shubham also contributed to some small research projects at his college and others. He always likes to understand new things from science to music to arts and many more. Shubham likes to relate science concepts to real life. Even if his major is chemistry but he always takes out time for learning about theoretical physics, microbiology, cosmology, and even classical music, besides that, he loves to explore, travel, and eat.