In early 2020, and by many perspectives, months before, we were all subjected to a new global pandemic named COVID-19. Here are some facts and information to assist in the handling of the virus.
COVID-19 is in the Coronavirus family which has been with us as far back as 55 million years ago or longer, implying long term co-evolution with different species. The common cold is a form of coronavirus.
So, what is a virus? According to the CDC, “a virus is a small collection of genetic code, either DNA or RNA, surrounded by a protein coat. A virus cannot replicate alone, they need a host (i.e., a nice, warm human body). Viruses have been found everywhere on Earth. Researchers estimate that viruses outnumber bacteria by 10 to 1. Because viruses do not have the same components as bacteria, they cannot be killed by antibiotics; only antiviral medications or vaccines can eliminate or reduce the severity of viral diseases, including AIDS, COVID-19, measles, and smallpox.” Some diseases such as smallpox and polio have been mostly eradicated worldwide, thanks to vaccines. Most children begin at only a few months of age, to receive safe, effective vaccinations to protect them from deadly viruses.
Unfortunately, often antibiotics are prescribed for viral infections, which has no impact on the virus, but reduces the effectiveness of antibiotics on bacterial infections, and decreases their efficacy in the general population. This underscores the necessity to take all antibiotics for the entire course they are prescribed. “Good for the herd”, so to say.
Viruses, unlike, bacteria are very easily transmitted, which is why everyone catches the common cold from somewhere. Work, friends, family, school, or the local grocery store. They also mutate on a regular basis to survive, which alludes to the old joke that school classrooms are “petri” dishes. Thus, the flu shot is slightly different each year, to account for the mutations to make it effective for the upcoming flu season. And yes, influenza is a virus.
COVID-19 is different, why? Coronaviruses get their name because under a microscope, they resemble a crown. They are enclosed in an “envelope,” which allows them to stick to surfaces and thus be highly transmissible like the common cold. COVID-19 is believed to have jumped from animals to humans, which is why it is called “novel”, opening humans to strains they had never been subjected to before. To minimize the spread, it is imperative to keep surfaces disinfected.
While the world was reeling when this first emerged with massive infection and deaths, scientists, researchers, and doctors were diligently trying to understand this new virus, often at their own peril exposing them to potentially deadly consequences, to develop a vaccine to protect from it. After a united effort, a vaccine was developed at record speed. What followed was an effort to distribute this lifesaving vaccine to as much of the world population as humanly possible. The worldwide death toll has been catastrophic, as well as here in our own country.
Now, we are faced with the variants. The new virus variants have protein spikes which allow it to attach to cells. The Delta variant has two different mutation spikes. The newly announced and scary Omicron variant just announced by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday after an emergency meeting, has at least ten spikes, and according to some sources, 30 mutations. This is prompting travel bans worldwide. Scientists, researchers, and doctors are analyzing this as fast as possible. Pfizer announced they can tweak the vaccine within 100 days.
What does that mean to all of us who are already vaccinated? While concern arose as to whether the first vaccines were effective against the Delta variant, research showed they were, and even a “breakthrough” case resulted in much reduced symptoms, hospitalizations, and mortality rates. Reactions to the vaccinations and boosters have been varied and mild, please report any to your provider, as tracking is important.
According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, to think this is not already among us would be naïve. “I would not be surprised if it is. We have not detected it yet, but when you have a virus that is showing this degree of transmissibility and you’re already having travel-related cases that they’ve noted in Israel and Belgium and other places, when you have a virus like this, it almost invariably is ultimately going to go essentially all over.”
To do now.
- Do not panic
- Continue to be diligent
- Clean masks, washed and with new liners
- Make your house a clean zone, by sanitizing all counters, doorknobs etc.
- Wipe out your cars with 99% isopropyl alcohol
Below are links to several sites for more in-depth information.