Coronavirus disease (2019) is an illness triggered by a brand new virus that can infect an individual in case he or she inhales the droplets of coughing, sneezing, or particles generated by breathing. Another way of becoming infected is touching a contaminated surface and then touching oneself (especially, eyes and face). As it is known, the Covid-19 outbreak started in Wuhan, China and then reached the pandemic level. It should be mentioned that the exact number of coronavirus-19 cases worldwide quickly exceeded the number of cases registered in China. The given paper will examine causes, symptoms, myths, and consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.
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Causes of the Covid-19 Pandemic
The late 2019 was marked by the outbreak of a novel betacoronavirus infection (SARS-CoV-2), which was reported in those patients who had visited one seafood market in Wuhan (China) or been somehow exposed to the animals and fish from that market (Mackenzie, 2020). The most significant characteristic of this Chinese market is that buyers can find live animals being sold there. Therefore, similarly to all other infectious outbreaks, the emergence of new type of coronavirus is thoroughly connected to the contact with animals. In the case of COVID-19, it might take years or even decades to find the mysterious 0-patient. However, it is possible to assume that the COVID disease outbreak was caused by a bat-to-human transmission of this notorious novel virus type.
It should be said that it is not the first case of human coronavirus. This SARS-CoV-2 is believed to be the 7th of already known human coronavirus (Clerkin et al., 2020). At the same time, this new type of single-stranded RNA virus is completely unlike the existing coronaviruses (229E, NL63, HKU1, OC43) that cause cold. On the other hand, it is a bit but similar to the already known coronavirus (SARS-CoV) that led to zoonotic severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus in 2002 and the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus from 2012 (Clerkin et al., 2020). Despite the common misconception or myth, coronavirus is not caused by bacteria; it is caused by a novel type of virus. According to the most popular and accurate definition, COVID-19 is caused by “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, which invades cells through the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 receptor” (Clerkin et al., 2020, p.1648). That underlines that although coronaviruses usually cause only certain symptoms of catching a cold, betacoronaviruses (SARS-CoV-1, MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV-2) might lead to severe pneumonia, respiratory problems, and fatal exodus.
SARS-CoV-2 is proved to infect host cells through ACE2, which may cause COVID-19. At the same time, this process of infecting the cells usually causes damage to the myocardium. Nevertheless, it is still necessary to conduct further analysis to define the specific mechanisms of infecting host cells and how it affects the organism of a patient. It is quite compelling that patients with CVD or SARS-CoV-2 infection might have different symptoms. However, it should be noted that some particular groups (elderly people, for instance) have quite an adverse prognosis. As a consequence, much attention must be dedicated to the protection of their cardiovascular system during their treatment.
Symptoms of COVID-19 may drastically vary. It is true, however, that the patients infected with the virus usually experience some mild (or moderate) respiratory illness and are able to recover without the need to require special care and medical treatment. It was proven that the most common symptoms of the COVID-19 disease might be fever (reported by 88% of the infected patients) and dry cough (reported by 67.7% of patients) (Han et al., 2020). At the same time, these symptoms are usually shared with a range of other viral syndromes: rhinorrhea (shown by 4.8% of patients) and gastrointestinal symptoms, such as diarrhea (reported by 4% to 14% of patients), nausea or emesis (experienced by only 5% of all patients) (Han et al., 2020). It should be mentioned that the presence of gastrointestinal symptoms is extremely rare for the COVID-19 disease.
As for other less common symptoms, the World Health Organization points out the following: “aches and pains, sore throat, diarrhea, conjunctivitis, headache, loss of taste or smell, a rash on skin, or discoloration of fingers or toes”(“Coronavirus. Symptoms”, 2020). As can be seen, the most common symptoms (fever, dry cough, tiredness) should be the first sign to a person to check for the COVID-19 virus. With the flow of time, these common symptoms might turn into the more serious ones: respiratory problems (e.g., shortness of breath), chest pain, chest pressure, and inability to speak of speech or move.
It is also necessary to mention that elderly people as well as the patients suffering from medical problems, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness (“Coronavirus. Symptoms”, 2020). Considering all the mentioned above, evaluation and treatment of Covid-19 should depend on the severity of a particular case. For example, patients with mild symptoms can recover at home, while consulting with their family doctor or under tutelage of medical workers. On average, it might take about two weeks for patients with mild symptoms to recover at home. On the other hand, those patients who have moderate or severe Covid-19 have to be hospitalized for detailed observation, personalized treatment, and supportive care. This tactic is aimed to save money and reserve hospital beds for those who really need it.
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It is also necessary to add that proven therapies for Covid-19 do not exist yet. The creation and trials of some vaccines or treatments for COVID-19 are still an ongoing process. For the present moment, however, there are no official drugs and treatment licensed for the prevention of COVID-19. As for diagnosis of Covid-19, the process is entirely based on the detection of SARS-CoV-2 by PCR testing of a nasopharyngeal swab or other specimen (“COVID-19 Mythbusters”, 2020). It should be noted that may take approximately five days for symptoms to come up. However, sometimes it can take about two weeks. It is necessary to seek medical attention if a person notices the first symptoms that remind those of the COVID-19 disease.
To prevent catching the notorious virus and assist in slowing down the transmission form people to people, it is necessary to often wash one’s hands (longer than thirty seconds) with soap, clean hands and surfaces with sanitizer/alcohol-based rub. People also should maintain a healthy distance (at least one meter; especially if others are sneezing or coughing) and follow the etiquette of coughing (flexed elbow or napkins instead hands). In addition to that, it is important to avoid touching one’s face and trying to stay home most of the time.
Another good way to slow down the transmission of the COVID-19 is to stay well informed about the particularities of this novel virus type and how it can be spread. The COVID-19 virus can spread through droplets of the infected person’s saliva or discharge from the nose (while sneezing, for example). As for now, there are some myths floating the Internet that might lead to misconception and diffusing the wrong information. For example, adding pepper to a soup or meals does not assist in preventing or curing COVID-19 (“COVID-19 Mythbusters”, 2020). As for houseflies and mosquitoes, the World Health Organization states that there is still no evidence to claim that the COVID-19 virus transmitted through houseflies (“COVID-19 Mythbusters”, 2020). As for spraying and introducing bleach into one’s body, this practice is not only useless but can be highly dangerous to one’s health. Finally, thermal scanners only serve to detect a fever (i.e. a higher body temperature), but not the COVID-19 virus. In addition to that, it is possible to notice some people who are running and doing exercises in masks. Nevertheless, it might affect badly their health since a mask decrease one’s ability to breathe in a normal way and sweat leads to the increase of deleterious microorganisms. Therefore, it is better to keep in mind the necessity to maintaining the acceptable social distance instead of wearing a mask.
The Covid-19: Consequences
The spread of the pandemic led both to a great number of deaths and severe economic consequences for all the countries. First of all, a significant number of employees have lost their jobs, while others noticed that their incomes were cut. For example, the statistics gathered in the United States by International Monetary Fund (IMF) showed that the proportion of unemployed people has hit 10.4%, which ended “the decade of expansion for one of the world’s largest economies” (“Coronavirus: A visual guide to the economic impact”, 2020). Secondly, entrepreneurs and owners of small businesses had to close their shops, restaurants, and other facilities. Therefore, it is possible to state that those damages associated with the illness itself, severe symptoms, and the mortality rate are lower than most of indirect losses that were caused by the crisis. As for psychological consequences, it can be seen that people tend to experience more anxiety, depression, the feeling of uncertainty, and worrying. On the other hand, the outbreak of the pandemic helped to discover some weak points in the health care systems in all countries across the globe.
As can be seen, the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a pandemic that started in Wuhan, China, and was caused by a novel type of betacoronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). It can be seen that the COVID-19 disease may trigger different symptoms among different people. As a rule, the severity or mildness of the symptoms can be predicted by the overall level of health and the age of a particular patient. The elderly patients as well as those with cancer, artery and cardiovascular diseases might be at risk since their cases can turn out to be the fatal ones. However, the majority of infected patients show mild and moderate symptoms of the disease, which lets them recover without any hospitalization. Excluding the medical ones, the COVID-19 pandemic has both financial, social, psychological and cultural on the global community.
Clerkin, K. J., Fried, J. A., Raikhelkar, J., Sayer, G., Griffin, J. M., Masoumi, A., & Schwartz, A. (2020). COVID-19 and cardiovascular disease. Circulation, 141(20), 1648-1655.
Coronavirus: A visual guide to the economic impact. (2020). BBC News. Web.
Coronavirus. Symptoms. (2020). Who.int (World Health Organization). Web.
COVID-19 Mythbusters. (2020). Who.int (World Health Organization). Web.
Han, C., Duan, C., Zhang, S., Spiegel, B., Shi, H., Wang, W., Zhang, L., Lin, R., Liu, J., Ding, Z., & Hou, X. (2020). Digestive Symptoms in COVID-19 Patients With Mild Disease Severity: Clinical Presentation, Stool Viral RNA Testing, and Outcomes. The American Journal of Gastroenterology, 115(6), 916–923.
Mackenzie, J. S., & Smith, D. W. (2020). COVID-19: A novel zoonotic disease caused by a coronavirus from China: What we know and what we don’t. Microbiology Australia, 41(1), 45.