The world is witnessing its biggest pandemic in the form of the novel coronavirus. After cholera, HongKong flu, Spanish flu, Asian Flu, H1N1 virus, Ebola virus COVID-19 is the next major outburst of disease across continents. Though it is still debated if it is a pandemic or an epidemic, this virus has claimed more than 265,000 lives with the total number of cases at 3,836,819 till now. Though the mortality rate of the corona is only 3.4 percent, which is much below that of the Ebola virus at 40.4 percent, this virus has caused havoc due to the way it mutates and a long incubation period of 2 weeks. The fact that scientists are still struggling to get a vaccine out for this virus makes this a menacing enemy.
Why Is It Called Novel And Why Is It Difficult To Find A Vaccine For This Virus
Terming a virus as a novel means that it is a new pathogen of a previously known disease. Human Coronavirus is an infection that causes mild cold and cough, but the novel COVID is capable of cross-species transmission and has some unusual virulent strains. It started with an animal population that got transmitted to humans and is now spreading from humans to humans. Our immune system has not been exposed to such a strain ever in the past. A viable vaccine seems challenging to come out soon since, in the past, the US or UK haven’t been able to find a vaccine for even other forms of coronavirus since the immunity to the virus diminishes very quickly. It is not yet confirmed that those who had COVID-19 recently would have developed antibodies in them to prevent a second occurrence of this disease.
This virus can cause common cold to severe acute respiratory syndrome to more severe forms like the Middle East respiratory syndrome.
How Does It Spread And How Long Is The Virus Alive
“Corona” means a crown, and this virus looks like a crown under a microscope. They have enveloped viruses with the capability to stick to surfaces but can be easily killed with disinfectants. If an infected person sneezes or speaks at a distance of less than 1 meter, the droplets can come out of the nose or mouth and get lodged in another person’s nose or mouth. The droplets are heavy and sink to the ground quickly; hence it is essential to maintain a distance of 1 meter from others.
Various studies were carried out to see how long the coronavirus lasts on a surface. Here are the findings of these studies:
- Glass, paper – up to 4 days.
- Wood – up to 2 days
- Plastic and stainless steel – up to 3-4 days
- Cardboard – 24 hours
If the environment has a high temperature and humidity, the virus dies sooner than in colder and dry weather. They have a poor survival rate on food products and packaging, but it is a good idea to wash them in clean water before consuming them.
Preventive Measures To Help Yourself And Others
- Social distancing is essential at this point. Working from home should be continued for a long time to come. Recently TCS got included in essential services and allowed companies to operate during the lockdown, and now they have 21 cases of COVID19 in their Thane branch.
- Cleaning hands regularly with soap or alcohol-based sanitizer which has more than 65% alcohol
- Infected people or those who take care of infected people must wear masks. When you wear masks, please make sure there are no gaps around your nose and mouth. If the mask gets damp, replace them immediately.
- Homemade masks can be easily made with cloth and can be worn in case social distancing is not possible, like grocery stores.
- Include immunity-boosting food items in your diet. Citrus fruits like oranges, which have a high amount of vitamin C should be taken regularly. You could additionally take Vitamin C tablets. Some other food items which boost immunity are garlic, ginger, moon daal, Amla, which can be added in your diet.
- Isolate yourself when there is the onset of any symptoms of coronavirus like cough, cold, fever, or headache.
- Do not touch your nose, mouth with your hands.
- If you go out, wash your clothes once you come back home.
- Disinfect your kitchen counter or other places where you keep groceries that are brought from outside, or you come from outside and touch knobs, doorbells, etc. You can use white vinegar, detergent, or soap for cleaning them. Use EPA-registered products for cleaning these surfaces.
As per recent news, there are some developments in the direction of finding a vaccine that can provide some kind of protection against this deadly virus. The researchers at the University of Oxford announced testing a vaccine for the COVID. Even Israel has announced another line of treatment through antibodies, which could prove to be a breakthrough in these dark times.
Despite these technological advances and claims, a foolproof remedy is still not in sight; hence the essential steps for us to take would be social distancing, self-isolation, tracing the contact, and few others discussed here.