Coronavirus COVID-19 and New Variants - Things You Should Know

Many unpredictable devastating events happened as we entered the year 2020. An awakening outbreak of a respiratory illness of a new virus emerged in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China.

Public health experts worldwide are scrambling to get, track, and contain this new virus that showed up in Wuhan, China, toward the start of December 2019. The World Health Organization alerted several cases of pneumonia in the said place, but it did not match the previous Coronaviruses like SARS and MERS.

What Are Coronaviruses?

Coronavirus is named for its shape, protruding spikes that look like a crown or ”corona.” SARS and MERS are part of the coronavirus as well as viruses that cause the common colds.

They are zoonotic, meaning they spread between animals and people. They are a large family of viruses. They cause not only the common cold but also more severe respiratory illnesses.

Animal Source of this Coronavirus

The kind of animal the virus originated from isn't clear. However, one investigation found that the hereditary arrangement of the new virus is 96 percent alike from one coronavirus found in bats. Both SARS and MERS started with bats.

How It Was Transmitted From Animals To Humans

Coronaviruses are a large number of viruses that occur among animals. These viruses mutated, which made it possible to infect humans. It attacks the respiratory system just like its relative coronaviruses. Now, it caused fatalities and overwhelming health care providers around the world.

What Is Covid-19

COVID-19 is the contagious disease brought about by the most recently identified coronavirus. This new virus and infection were unfamiliar before the outbreak started in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. COVID-19 is currently a pandemic affecting several nations all around.

There was a case, an examination of early instances of the illness. Published on January 24th, it found out that the first patient to become ill didn't contact the market. Specialists are as yet attempting to follow the outbreak back to its source.

An Emerging Outbreak In China

The World Health Organization named the illness brought about by the infection COVID-19. It hints at the type of infection, and the year it surfaced. At least 106 people have died from a new coronavirus in China following an outbreak in the central city of Wuhan. It forced the government to lock down nearly 20 cities. In effect, it has quarantined an estimated 56 million people.

Updated reports show more than 18 million confirmed cases have been recorded globally. There are more than 700,000 deaths. A large portion of them is in China and particularly in Wuhan and neighboring cities in Hubei province. But, the rate of new cases there has slowed down. Almost 12 million individuals have recovered from the ailment. It is affecting 213 countries and territories around the world.

Spreading Outside China

Most new cases are showing up in different nations outside of China. There have been huge outbreaks of the disease in South Korea, Italy, Iran, and Japan. By the end of January 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a world public health emergency.

The virus has spread to over 200 countries and regions around the world in three months. The first coronavirus case outside China is in Thailand in mid-January. The first recorded death outside China is in the Philippines by the start of February. Such signs pushed several leaders across the world to order travel bans. They also declared “lockdown” or quarantine periods.

World Cases Of COVID-19

The COVID-19 disease has a total of 18,709,161 cases in the world. There are at least 704,000 deaths in 213 countries and territories. The World Health Organization website provides all the information in each country. The Americas has the most number of confirmed cases with 9,741,727 cases. Europe came second with 3,425,017 instances.

As of August 4th, the United States has the most cases globally, amounting to almost 5 million. Brazil now came in second, amounting to over 2 million cases. Other countries such as India, Russia and then South Africa came in next respectively. 

Surprisingly, the countries mentioned above surpassed the number of cases where the epicenter of the disease is. China now recorded 84,491 confirmed cases and came 29th in the most number of cases. 

The United States also has the most number of deaths, with over 160,000. Brazil came second, more than half of what the US has recorded, with 96,000 deaths. For the latest metrics of COVID-19 cases around the world, you can visit it here.

In China, they have entered a new phase in the COVID-19 outbreak, suppression. China has driven coronavirus transmission down to almost zero. Although, there are few reported new cases. Still, nearly all of them were imported cases of travelers who recently returned from abroad.

Where And How It Originated

At the end of December, public health authorities from China have informed the World Health Organization about an issue. They said an unknown, new virus was causing pneumonia-like ailment in the city of Wuhan. They immediately discovered that it was a coronavirus. And that it was quickly spreading through and outside of Wuhan.

Origin of the Virus

Chinese health specialists are yet trying to determine the starting point of the virus. They stated it originated from a seafood market in Wuhan where wildlife was traded illegally. This seafood market is called Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market. 

The WHO additionally says an animal source appears to be the primary source of the outbreak. 

How It Is Transmitted

The new coronavirus can be transmitted between people. Chinese health specialists indicated this. It is likewise adjusting and changing. It could make the virus spread faster and potentially hard to treat. 

It isn't yet clear how infectious the virus is. Many other coronaviruses are notorious for spreading by coughing and sneezing. There are no signs so far that the virus is transmitted via the respiratory tract.

Incubation Period

The COVID-19 virus is thought to have a 14-day incubation period. It has a median time of 4-5 days from exposure to symptoms onset. A study showed that 97.5% of persons with COVID-19 developed the symptoms 11.5 days after the infection.

Person-to-person Spread

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person to person.

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.
  • These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of nearby people or who can inhale them into the lungs.
  • Some recent studies suggested that COVID-19 may spread to people who are not showing symptoms.
  • Maintaining a reasonable social distance (about 6 feet) is very critical in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

“Can Covid-19 be caught from a person who has no symptoms?”

COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets. These droplets are discharged by somebody who is coughing or has different manifestations. Examples of these are fever or sleepiness. Numerous individuals with COVID-19 experience just mild symptoms. This is especially evident in the beginning periods of the infection. It is likely to get COVID-19 from somebody who has only a mild cough and doesn't feel sick.

A few reports showed that individuals without any symptoms could transmit the virus. It isn't yet known how frequently it occurs. WHO is evaluating continuous examination on the topic and will keep on sharing updated data.

Asymptomatic Instances

Several cases already reported patients who areCOVID-19 positive never developed symptoms (asymptomatic). These asymptomatic persons are not tested routinely. Because of this, their infection and detection are not well understood. 

Chinese authorities have said that they have seen situations where individuals with the virus-infected others before they begin showing symptoms. Researches out of China indicated that individuals without symptoms have significant virus levels in their throats and noses. This means they might be passing it along if they cough or sneeze.

In one study, confirmed cases in children were asymptomatic using reverse-transcriptase- polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Patients may have abnormalities on chest imaging before showing symptoms.

Asymptomatic Transmission

Many epidemiologic studies have documented COVID-19 transmission during the incubation period. This time is called the “pre-symptomatic” incubation period. Studies have shown large quantities of viral RNA and viable viruses from asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic persons. 

Viral RNA shedding and transmission of COVID-19 is yet unclear. Even the comparison between transmission due to asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic infection and symptomatic is also yet unclear.

The Symptoms for Covid-19

According to the WHO, the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 vary on the onset of the illness. But most persons infected with the virus would experience the following:  

  • Fever
  •  Cough
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or congested nose
  • Diarrhea
  • The symptoms vary according to the severity of the disease. For example, cough, fever, and shortness of breath are more familiar to hospitalized with COVID-19 than those with mild cases (non-hospitalized patients).

    Statistics and Presentation of Symptoms in the World

    80% of people recover from the infection without requiring hospital treatment. Around 1 out of 5 individuals who get COVID-19 turns out to be actively sick and develop trouble breathing.

    In one study, fever was present in 44% of the total 1,099 patients for the hospital admission. This percentage developed into 82% during the hospitalization. Headache, fatigue, and muscle aches (myalgia) are among the most common reported symptoms in hospitalized people. In addition, nasal congestion, runny nose, and sore throat are also distinguishable symptoms.

    Many COVID-19 patients experience gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, or diarrhea. They sometimes experience these before developing fever and lower respiratory tract signs and symptoms.

    Loss of smell or taste is mainly reported in women, young or middle-aged COVID-19 patients. They showed these before experiencing respiratory symptoms. Although, they did not need hospitalization. Many COVID-19 symptoms are common to other respiratory or viral illnesses. Loss of smell appears to be more specific to COVID-19.

    Some older adults and persons with medical comorbidities-a situation when one experiences two medical conditions at the same time would later experience fever and respiratory symptoms.

    It can prompt pneumonia, severe acute respiratory disorder, kidney failure, and even death in increasingly severe cases. Elderly citizens tend to be more often affected by the virus than younger people.

    Children show the same signs and symptoms as adults but vary by the age of the child. However, they have milder cases compared to adults.

    The severity of the Infection

    According to the persons infected with COVID-19 in China, the severity of the illness can range from the following:

    • Mild to moderate (mild symptoms up to mild pneumonia): 81%
    • Severe (dyspnea, hypoxia, or >50% lung involvement on imaging): 14%
    • Critical (respiratory failure, shock, or multiorgan system dysfunction): 5%

    The deaths that occurred among patients with the critical illness have an overall fatality rate of 2.3%. Patients with the critical disease have a fatality rate of 49%. 

    In China, children have an illness severity lower than 49% for asymptomatic, mild, or moderate disease. 5% of them have severe disease. Less than 1% have the critical disease.

    In the US, 19% of COVID-19 cases with known dispositions were hospitalized. The proportion of those who are admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) was 6%. 

    Progression of the Severity

    The average time from the onset of illness or symptoms ranged from 5 to 8 days for severe (dyspnea) case-patients. The average time from the onset of symptoms ranged from 8 to 12 days for patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Lastly, the average time from the onset of illness or symptoms to ICU admission ranged from 10-12 days.

    Clinicians need to be aware of the potential for some patients who could deteriorate rapidly in a week after the onset of the illness. Among hospitalized patients, 26%-32% of patients were admitted to ICU. Among all patients, 3% to 17% developed ARDS compared to 20% to 42% for hospitalized patients. 67% to 85% of patients were admitted to ICU.

    Mortality rates of patients admitted to ICU were 39% to 72%. This range depends on the study and characteristics of the patient population. The average length of days for hospitalized survivors was 10 to 13 days.

    Risk Factors for Severe Infection

    Age is a strong risk factor for severe infection, complications, and even death. The majority of the confirmed cases in China alone, the case fatality rate was highest among ages more than 80 years old.

    In China, Here are the case fatality rates among other age groups:

    • Above 89 years old----14.8%
    • 70-79 years old ----8%
    • 60-69 years old ----3.6%
    • 50-59 years old ----1.3%
    • 40-49 years old ----0.4%
    • Less than 40 years old---0.2%

    In US epidemiological data, the following are the case fatality rate:

    • 85 years and above-----10%–27%
    • 65-84 years----3%–11%
    •  55-64 years---1%–3%
    • 55 years and less------ <1%

    In China, reports also showed low as 0.9% fatality rates for patients with no underlying medical conditions. But it had the highest rates for patients with comorbidities. Among these medical conditions are cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, or cancer. Stroke, diabetes, chronic lung disease, and chronic kidney disease have also been linked with increased severity for the COVID-19 infection. 

    It is also important to note that patients with heart diseases are at a higher risk for the COVID-19 infection.

    Both in China and the US, mortality showed consistent results in accounting for the age differences and prevalence of underlying conditions for COVID-19 patients.

    Reinfection

    There is no data accounted for the possibility of reinfection of COVID-19 after recovery. The viral RNA may shed but continue for days or weeks during recovery. However, detecting this viral RNA during testing may not indicate that the viruses are viable to infect.

    When the body becomes infected with the COVID-19 virus, it creates the antibodies IgM and IgG. However, clinical studies don’t have definitive data or are uncertain whether the presence of these antibodies can protect against possible reinfection of COVID-19. Also, the results didn’t show how much concentration of these antibodies is enough for the protection.

    Another Covid-19 Variant 

    Most recent headlines about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic are alarming: Another variant of the virus is currently on the rise in the United States.

    How many variants are out there?

    Variants are relatively typical instances. As they spring up, some will disappear. Others can become possible dangers. The present moment, there are around four "variants of concern" in the U.S.These variants are named as such in light of the fact that they have expanded rates of transmission. They can likewise prompt increased hospitalizations or deaths, significant decreases in the balance of infections by antibodies or decreases in the viability of medicines or vaccines. It may likewise be somewhat harder to distinguish variants of concern. 
    As of this moment, there are four variants of concern: alpha, beta, delta and gamma. These are as a rule firmly observed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other federal organizations.

    Why the delta variant is alarming

    The variant currently causing worry all throughout the world is the "delta" variant. Experts say a specific strain of the delta variant (a mutated version of the variant that is more contagious) is responsible for the new surge of cases in the United Kingdom. 
    This strain, B.1.617.2, is as of now the dominant one in the U.K. also, is named as a "variant of worry" by the World Health Organization (WHO). Experts believe it to be up to 60% more contagious than the first strain of COVID-19. 
    In the United States, the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) recently arranged the delta variant as a "variant of concern" because of a continuous increase of cases. In mid-May, it represented just 2.5% of U.S. cases yet by mid-June, that number expanded to essentially 6%, as per the National Institute of Health. 
    As of August 2021, the delta variant has become the foremost heredity of SARS-CoV-2 coursing across the U.S. It has caused significant illness. For instance, COVID-related hospitalizations in Florida have outperformed past records because of the delta wave.

    How delta variant symptoms are different

    With COVID-19, the common symptoms are:
    • Fever or chills.
    • Cough.
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.
    • Fatigue.
    • Muscle or body aches.
    • Headache.
    • New loss of taste or smell.
    • Sore throat.
    • Congestion or runny nose.
    • Nausea or vomiting.
    • Diarrhea.
    Symptoms appear to be somewhat milder with the delta variant. There have been less reports of loss of smell and cough and more reports of manifestations like headache, runny nose, sore throat and fever. 
     
    Symptoms in children with the delta variant have been mild as well. They include:
    • Coughing.
    • Sneezing.
    • Runny nose.
    • Upset stomach.
    • Headache
    • Fatigue.
    While this new strain hasn't caused a ton of extreme ailments up until now, a few children's hospitals have reported increasing hospitalizations because of the delta variant.
     

    What do we know about other COVID variants?

    Recently, more contagious variants from the U.KSouth Africa and Brazil stood out as truly newsworthy as they turned out to be more predominant in various parts of the world. 
    Each has its own set of mutations, however they all contain little changes to parts of the spike protein that helps the Covid connect to our cells. This is surely a concern because it means the virus could spread more easily. 
    It's difficult to quantify precisely the amount of an effect new variants at first have on the pandemic since many elements add to how rapidly an infection spreads – including human practices. 
    But those worries over the new delta variants are for all things considered. The U.K. variant that frightened specialists in the U.S. toward the start of the year, called B.1.1.7 or "alpha," presently represents almost 70% of all U.S. cases. Also, the variation from Brazil, P.1, represents more than 11% of all U.S. Cases. The CDC considers both "variants of concern.
    Good news, however, as an investigation out of England showed that the Pfizer antibody was still exceptionally effective (88%) against symptomatic sickness from the delta variant.

    What about the lambda variant?

    With the delta variant arising as a predominant variant of concern, researchers are striving to find the following variant that might actually make COVID-19 considerably harder to beat. One variation of interest is the lambda variation (C.37). The most punctual archived tests of this variant were recorded back in December of 2020 in Peru. It has since been accounted for that this variant is more resistant to vaccines and exceptionally contagious. The WHO made it a "variant of interest" on June 14 and it has been recognized in 29 countries up until this point. Nonetheless, there are as yet numerous questions with regards to the lambda variant. Dr. It is on the expert’s radar, yet it's still too soon to decide its effect.

    Does the vaccine protect against variants?

    Eventually, the mutating  nature of the Covid, and all viruses, is something that experts across the world are watching out for, however it's not something you ought to hope to shift the direction of the pandemic all night. 
    Nonetheless, the infectiousness of the newer variants is even more a motivation to remain cautious even as most states roll back social separating rules. Just 50% of U.S. grown-ups are completely vaccinated; however, in many states, that number remains below half. 
    The CDC says the COVID-19 vaccines approved for emergency use in the U.S. are exceptionally effective at preventing serious infection and death even with the Delta variant. But, remember that since they are not 100% effective, advanced contaminations will happen. In these cases, the vaccines actually give solid protection against severe illness and death. 

    When To Seek Medical Help?

    If you develop the emergency warning signs for COVID-19, get medical attention immediately. These emergency warning signs are:

    • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
    • Trouble breathing
    • New confusion or inability to arouse
    • Bluish face or lips

    However, if you live in an area with dengue fever or malaria, it is significant that you don't disregard fever symptoms. Look for clinical assistance. When you go to the health office, wear a mask as much as possible, keep an excellent 1-meter distance from others, and don't contact surfaces with your hands. If it is a child who is sick, aid the child and adhere to this guidance.

    Remember that these may not show all at once. Seek your medical provider for any other severe symptoms.

    Who Should Be Tested?

    Not everyone should be tested for the COVID-19.  CDC has guidance for those who should be tested. But decisions about testing are at the discretion of state and local health departments and individual clinicians.  Here are the criteria for priority patients with suspected covid-19 infection:

    Priority 1

    • Hospitalized patients
    • Healthcare facility workers with symptoms

    Priority 2

    • Patients in long-term care facilities with symptoms
    • Patients 65 years of age and older with symptoms
    • Patients with underlying conditions with symptoms
    • First responders with symptoms

    Priority 3

    • Critical infrastructure workers with symptoms
    • Individuals who do not meet any of the above categories with symptoms
    • Healthcare facility workers and first responders
    • Individuals with mild symptoms in communities experiencing high numbers of COVID-19 hospitalizations

    Non-priority

    • Individuals without symptoms

    Different COVID-19 Tests

    Molecular (Swab) Test

    Using a swab test, health care workers take specimens from the nose and back of the throat of PUIs. Each sample will then be put in a tube. It will be sealed and taken to the national or subnational confirmatory testing laboratory for COVID-19. 

    Once the samples arrive in a qualified testing facility, technicians use rRT-PCR or real-time reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction. This is to look for the presence of novel coronavirus or severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2.

    Results may show negative, but there would still be a high index of suspicion for COVID-19 virus infection. This was mainly when only upper respiratory tract specimens were collected. Then a re-examination is much necessary. Additional specimens, including the lower respiratory tract, should be collected and tested.

    Antibody (Serology) Test

    This type is a blood test. It detects the presence of antibodies that helped fight against the coronavirus. The particular types are immunoglobulins IgM and IgG. They are specific to this type of infection. These antibodies are in the liquid part of the blood called serum or plasma, depending on the clotting factors. Their presence may be detected separately or together.

    Here are signs you should take this test:

    • You are a health worker who has exposure to the virus and experienced common signs and symptoms.
    • You traveled or lived in a place where there is the local transmission of the COVID-19.
    • You are living or have close contact with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19.
    • You have recovered from COVID-19

    IgM Antibody Test

    This test detects the IgM antibodies that are first to form when a virus attacks. A positive IgM test indicates that you have recently been infected. Thus, your immune system responded quickly by producing them. When a test shows IgM positive, it means you may still be infected. Or it could be that you just recently recovered from a COVID-19 infection.

    IgG Antibody Test

    This test detects the IgG antibodies that develop for patients within seven to 10 days after the symptoms showed. These antibodies remain in the blood after the infection. The result would indicate that you may have had COVID-19 in the recent past. These antibodies that developed may protect you from future infection. Still, no data shows how long these antibodies can protect from reinfection.

    What Can Be Done Stop It From Spreading

    There is no specific treatment for the new virus. Yet, there are many studies in progress to attempt to discover a few. One driving applicant is remdesivir, an antiviral medicine initially created to treat Ebola. Clinical preliminaries are testing it in patients in China and the US. 

    Research groups and pharmaceutical organizations are additionally attempting to build up a vaccine. This vaccine should have the potential to protect individuals from the disease. In any case, vaccine advancement takes quite a while. Regardless of whether everything goes quickly, it will be around a year to 18 months and a half before one is accessible.

    Chinese authorities have effectively closed Wuhan, state media said. Airports around the globe — and especially in China — presented fever checks for travelers going from China. 

    Since the outbreak has been declared, this calls for a worldwide public health emergency. Restrictions for international travel, tighter border checks, and setting up special treatment centers and quarantine areas have been intensely practiced.

    How To Protect Yourself From The Disease

    As always, it is strongly advisable to practice good hygiene. This is to prevent this virus from spreading. Follow these simple reminders from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
    • Stay home when you are sick.
    • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
    • Strengthen your immune system by eating fruits and vegetables
    • Drink plenty of water

    If you live in the US, almost certainly, you have the flu or the common cold. It's still flu season. Elevated levels of flu action aren't relied upon to subside at any point shortly. (It's not very late to get a flu shot!) 

    Call your doctor if you live in the US and have a fever or a dry cough. Do so also if you have recently been to China, Iran, Italy, Japan, or South Korea. Have a check-up when you have been in contact with somebody who has been to one of those spots or been in contact with somebody who has a confirmed case of COVID-19.

    Can a face mask protect you from infection? 

    The CDC suggests that in case you are not vaccinated, you should wear a cloth face mask in the event that you go out in the open. In case you are at home with somebody who has been infected or exposed, you should wear it too. A mask is an additional layer of protection for everybody, on top of social distancing efforts. You can spread the infection when you talk or cough, regardless of whether you don't realize that you have it or on the other hand in case you're not showing symptoms of disease. 

    The CDC urges that surgical masks and N95 masks ought to be reserved for health care workers and front liners. 

    Is it safe to travel during a pandemic? 

    There is a higher chance of getting COVID-19 in crowded places. The CDC advises opposing international or cruise ship travel during the pandemic. Restrictions are being facilitated for the individuals who are vaccinated, and a few regions are using "vaccine passports" as an approach to open up to vaccinated travelers. 

    Below are a couple of questions might help you with concluding whether it's safe to travel: 

    • Is the Covid spreading where you're going? 
    • Will you have close contact with others during the trip? 
    • Is it accurate to say that you are at higher danger of serious illness if you contract the infection? 
    • Do you live with somebody who has a serious medical condition? 
    • Will where you stay be cleaned? 
    • Will you have access to food and different necessities? 

    If you’ve decided to travel, stay away from sick people. Wash your hands regularly, and make an effort not to contact your face. Wear a face mask when you are around others. All airlines require all passengers to use them. They are likewise needed on different types of public transportation like trains and buses.

    Treatment

    To date, there is neither a specific medication to treat nor a vaccine to prevent COVID-19. Since this is a viral infection, antibiotics are not suggested. Treatment available is only for the symptoms. Oxygen therapy represents the first step to help cope with respiratory impairment. Intensive care will be helpful to deal with complicated forms of the disease.

    Research laboratories around the world are testing different possible treatments for the disease.  However, supportive care may be given at relieving symptoms which include:

    • Pain relievers (acetaminophen or ibuprofen)
    • Cough syrup or medication
    • Rest
    • Fluid Intake

    There is supportive care for patients experiencing shortness of breath or has a respiratory rate of less than 28-30/min. Administration of oxygen by a 40% Venturi mask is necessary for them.

    “Is a Vaccine, Drug or Treatment Available for Covid-19?”

    According to the World Health Organization, there are no particular vaccines or medicines for COVID-19. Although, laboratories and companies all over the world are competing to procure the vaccine and drugs. Yet, all of them are still under investigation and are going through clinical trials.

    For some westerns, conventional or home remedies may give comfort and lessen symptoms of mild COVID-19. WHO doesn't suggest self-medication with any prescriptions, including antibiotics, to prevent or remedy COVID-19. They are organizing a resolution to create vaccines and drugs to prevent and treat COVID-19 and keep on giving updated data as soon as research results become accessible. 

    Treatments Under Investigation: A Case Study

    Remdesivir is a drug that was proven to shorten the recovery time for patients in the hospital. However, the drug does not work for everyone who receives it. A team of scientists such as Sumit Chanda, a professor at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, has identified 21 existing drugs that can stop the replication of SARS-CoV-2. This is the virus that causes COVID-19.

    In the study, the team performed extensive testing and validation studies. It included evaluating the drugs on human lung biopsies infected with the virus. It evaluated the drugs for synergies with remdesivir. Then, they established dose-response relationships between the drugs and antiviral activity.

    Of the 21 drugs that were effective at blocking viral replication, the scientists found out the following:

    • Thirteen of them could potentially be safely achieved in COVID-19 patients. They have reached clinical trials before.
    • Two are already FDA-approved: astemizole and clofazimine.
    • Four worked synergistically, including an antimalarial drug that has reached Phase 3 trial.

    The team is pursuing the 21 compounds in small animals currently. "Based on our current analysis, clofazimine, hanfangchin A, apilimod, and ONO 5334 represent the best near-term options for an effective COVID-19 treatment," says Chanda. "While some of these drugs are currently in clinical trials for COVID-19, we believe it's important to pursue additional drug candidates, so we have multiple therapeutic options if SARS-CoV-2 becomes drug-resistant."

    Vaccine

    Scientific research around the world is growing to develop a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. There are more than 100 candidates for vaccines in development. If those, 8-10 are under clinical investigation. In this race to procure a vaccine, Chinese researchers appear to be in the lead. Nevertheless,  several studies are also ongoing in the US and the UK. 

    On Dec. 11, 2020, the FDA provided an emergency use authorization (EUA) in the U.S. for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Within seven days, that organization additionally provided an EUA to a vaccine developed by Moderna. Johnson and Johnson's single shot vaccine was allowed EUA in February, 2021. 

    The British government supported and started to give the Pfizer vaccine on Dec. 8, 2020. Vaccines created in China and Russia are currently likewise being given in a few different countries. 

    Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses, taken half a month apart while J and J is only a single shot. Health care workers  and the elderly were initially given priority in getting the vaccines; however by May 2021, the vaccines were made accessible to anybody over 12 years old. 

    These vaccines were developed at an uncommon speed, with testing in people beginning in March 2020. The FDA says that no corners were cut to take into account endorsement and that the vaccinations are safe. The CDC has said it is alright for pregnant women and there's no proof that antibodies shaped from COVID-19 vaccination bring about any issue with pregnancy.

    Prevention 

    The best approaches to protect yourself as well as other people against COVID-19 are to:

    • Clean your hands as often as possible and thoroughly
    • Refrain from contacting your eyes, mouth, and nose
    • Cover your cough with the bend of the elbow or tissue. If a tissue is used, dispose of it right away and wash your hands.
    • Keep up a distance of at least 1 meter from others.

      Difference Between Self-isolation, Self-quarantine, and Social Distancing

      Self-quarantine implies limiting activities or isolating individuals who are not sick but may have been exposed to COVID-19. The objective is to prevent the spread of the virus when individuals may be asymptomatic.

      Self-isolation implies separating individuals who are sick with symptoms of COVID-19. This is also for those who might be infectious to prevent the spread of the illness. 

      Social distancing implies being physically separated. WHO suggests keeping, in any event, a good 1-meter distance from others. This is a general measure that everybody should take. This is regardless of whether they are well with no known exposure to COVID-19.

      How Is China Trying To Stop The Virus?

      China made a forceful move toward the beginning of the outbreak. They closed down transportation in Wuhan — home to more than 11 million individuals. They also canceled flights and trains in and out of the city. Many different cities were put under successful quarantine. It is an attempt to slow the spread of the infection into different nations. Many festivities for the Lunar New Year, a gigantic holiday in China, were not spared for cancellation. 

      China likewise suspended public social events. They isolated the sick individuals and forcefully followed their contacts. They also had a devoted system of clinics to test for the virus. 

      The quantity of new infections announced in China has been declining. It showed to WHO authorities that transmission was easing back down. It showed that their control measures were working.

      Coronavirus Updates In The United States

      There have been 2,388,153 confirmed cases and 122,610 deaths in all 50 states in the US. In the United States, you can check the latest update of the Covid-19 here. You can also see the latest updates here in each state. 

      The growing number of lab-confirmed cases in the US is still behind. This cannot be compared to the seasonal flu, which killed an estimated 12,000 to 16,000 per year. Experts say that these respiratory diseases are similar to severe pneumonia. What’s worse is the fact that it doesn’t have any treatment at this point.

      History of Covid-19 in the United States

      Jan. 21, 2020: First confirmed case in the US

       A man in his 30s from Washington State with a travel history from Wuhan is diagnosed with the novel coronavirus.

      Jan. 31, 2020: Coronavirus a public health emergency

      It was on Jan.31, 2020, and the United States declared Coronavirus a Public Health Emergency. It issued a 14-day quarantine rule for US citizens entering the US from China. It also issued an order to deny entry of foreigners who have been in China within the past two weeks.

      Feb. 26, 2020: First case of Suspected Local Transmission in the United States

      On Feb. 26, 2020, it recorded the first suspected local transmission in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirms the first case of COVID-19 in a patient in California. This patient did not have any travel history in an outbreak area nor contact with a COVID-19 patient. Soon, Washington, Oregon, and New York reported their first cases of possible community transmission.

      Feb. 29, 2020: First death reported in the United States

      Feb. 29, 2020, the United States reported its first death of the COVID-19 in Washington state. It was a man who had no travel history to China. But, there were already two deaths that occurred last Feb. 26 at a nearby nursing home. This would later become the first COVID-19 deaths in the United States.

      Mar. 13, 2020: US President Trump declares a national emergency

      President Donald Trump declared the U.S. national emergency. He said it would open up $50 billion in federal funding to fight COVID-19.

      Mar. 17, 2020: Coronavirus now present in all 50 states

      It was West Virginia was the last state to have no cases, now reported its first case. It also means that the disease is present in all 50 states. North California ordered “shelter in place” for six counties in the San Francisco area for three weeks. It means people are to remain in their homes. They are to follow it unless they leave their house for important reasons or exercising outdoors.

      Mar. 20, 2020: New York City declared as US outbreak epicenter

      New York City reported more than 15,000 positive cases of COVID-19. It also accounted for almost half of the infections in the US. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio warned that the outbreak would worsen as the supplies decline.

      Mar. 26, 2020: US leads the world in COVID-19 cases

      The United States now has the most number of confirmed cases in the world. It recorded cases topping 82,000 and deaths topping 1,000.

      Mar. 27, 2020: $2 trillion stimulus bill signed by Trump

      This $2 trillion coronavirus relief law guarantees loans to small businesses and creates a lending system for distressed companies. It also gives financial assistance to hospitals that are frontlines of the crisis.

      Apr. 9, 2020: Evidence showed first coronavirus case in NYC came from Europe

      A new study has found evidence that the first COVID-19 cases in New York City originated in Europe. It occurred as early as February. Researchers found that COVID-19 in NYC arose in an untracked transmission between the United States and Europe. This evidence is limited. But, it has supporting evidence showing direct introductions from China, where the virus originated.

      April 21, 2020: Autopsy stirs up a positive note as 1st US COVID-19 death was earlier than previously suspected

      The CDC affirms that tissue from a person in Santa County, California, who passed away on Feb. 6, tested positive for COVID-19. That passing happened weeks sooner than the COVID-19 deaths in the Seattle region on Feb. 26. It was already believed to be the country's first.

      May 27, 2020: US reaches 100,000 deaths

      The pandemic has now killed more than 355,000 people worldwide and more than 100,000 people in the United States.

      June 11-17, 2020: Cases in Arizona, South Carolina and Florida soar

      States that rushed to reopen their economies saw subsequent increases in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

      June 24, 2020: NY, NJ, Conn. tell Florida travelers to quarantine

      As the United States' outbreak shifts from the Northeast to the South and West, several states put restrictions on travelers from Florida.

      July 12, 2020: Florida breaks single-day record for new COVID-19 cases

      Florida reports 15,000 new COVID-19 cases in a single day, surpassing New York's one-day record of 12,000 in April.

      Aug. 7, 2020: COVID-19 outbreak at Georgia summer camp infects 260

      Two hundred sixty campers and staffers test positive for COVID-19 at a youth sleepaway camp in Georgia, with 76% of those tested receiving positive results, a CDC report finds.

      Sept. 22, 2020: US reaches 200,000 deaths

      The pandemic has now killed more than 965,000 people worldwide and more than 200,000 people in the United States.

      September 23, 2020: A new, more contagious strain of COVID-19 is discovered

      A study conducted at Houston Methodist Hospital finds a more contagious strain of COVID-19 in a large portion of recent patient samples. Experts analyzed samples from the earliest phase of the pandemic and a more recent infection wave, finding that nearly all strains from the more recent phase had a mutation that allows the virus to bind and infect more cells.

      October 9,2020: US signs deal with AstraZeneca

      The Trump administration signed a $486 million agreement with AstraZeneca to develop an antibody treatment for COVID-19.

      October 22,2020: FDA approves Remdesivir as first COVID-19 drug

      Gilead’s remdesivir is the first FDA-approved drug to treat COVID-19 after 3 randomized trials found it to decrease the length of hospital stays and reduce the likelihood that patients will require oxygen. 

      November 4, 2020: US reports unprecedented 100,000 cases in 1 day

      The US hits a grim milestone with 100,000 new COVID-19 cases reported in a single day for the first time. 

      November 9, 2020: President-elect Biden announces COVID-19 transition team; Pfizer publishes vaccine results

      After former Vice President Joe Biden is determined to be the president-elect on November 7, he announces the names of the scientific, medical, and public health professionals who will serve on his Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board. The same day, Pfizer released data from its COVID-19 vaccine trial showing that the vaccination was 90% effective.

      November 16,2020: Moderna reveals vccine efficacy results

      The positive vaccine news continues with Moderna’s announcement that its experimental vaccine reduces the risk of COVID-19 infection by 94.5% in participants who received it.

      December 10, 2020: FDA advisory panel recommends Pfizer, BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine

      An FDA advisory panel endorses the first COVID-19 vaccine. The application for the Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine is heard in a public, day-long meeting; voting 17-4, with 1 abstention, the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) decides the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks for those 16 and older.

      December 18.2020: FDA signs off on EUA for Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine

      The FDA issues the second EUA allowing shipments of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to begin.

      December 23,2020: US buys more Pfizer vaccine

      The Trump administration announces it will buy an additional 100 million doses of Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine.

      December 31, 2020: US falls short of goal to give 20 million vaccinations by year ed

      As the year closed, the CDC says about 2.8 million people so far have received an initial vaccination. The US says on December 30 that about 14 million doses have been distributed, out of a total of 20 million allocated doses.

      How At-Risk Is The United States?

      It's difficult to state how noteworthy of an impact it could have in the United States. However, the virus is spreading through the nation. The CDC is using its guidelines for pandemic flu as a beginning stage for preparations. Individuals in the US ought to get ready for disturbances to regular daily life, said Nancy Messonnier. She is the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases executive at the CDC during a press call.

      There are more than 400 affirmed instances of the virus in the US. It incorporates individuals who were diagnosed to have COVID-19 need to evacuate. It is an order by the US State Department from Wuhan and the Diamond Princess cruise ship. The cruise ship is set to undergo quarantine in the US. Nineteen individuals in the United States have died of the virus. There is a progressing episode at a nursing home in Washington state.

      There are cases in states including California, New York, Washington, Oregon, and Florida in individuals who didn't contact an individual known to be contaminated with COVID-19. The source of those diseases is unknown. It might mean the infection is spreading through communities in the United States. The infection may have been spreading in Washington for quite a long time.

      Accordingly, the CDC rules initially didn't permit testing except if a sick individual had been in a nation with a continuous spread of the infection or who had been in contact with somebody with an affirmed case of the disease. These people could be tested but postponed the diagnosis of patients who didn't have those risk factors. 

      They've since updated that doctors can use their best judgment depending on a patient's symptoms and area. That depends if the patients choose they ought to be tested. In the US, however, there are yet a limited number of tests accessible.

      The CDC likewise says that it intends to accomplish widespread examination across the board for the infection. This is to check whether there are missing issues in testing units that eased back its the beginning. Inclining that up is significant because different nations are looking to discover them.

      What's more, any foreign national who has traveled out to China in the previous 14 days won't be permitted to enter the US. Although, the exemption is if they have close relatives there, as indicated by a declaration from President Trump. That choice isn't supported by the WHO. It said nations ought not to limit travel or exchange their reaction to the virus. 

      Above all, it is essential to be extra cautious about our health. As the most cliché line says, “Prevention is better than cure.


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