Regardless of whether we classify the new coronavirus as a pandemic, it is a serious issue. In less than two months, it has spread over several continents. Pandemic means sustained and continuous transmission of the disease, simultaneously in more than three different geographical regions. Pandemic does not refer to the lethality of a virus but to its transmissibility and geographical extension.
We certainly have is a pandemic of fear. The entire planet’s media is gripped by coronavirus. It is right that there is deep concern and mass planning for worst-case scenarios. And, of course, the repercussions move from the global health sphere into business and politics.
But it is also right that we must not panic. It would be wrong to say there is good news coming out of COVID-19, but there are causes for optimism; reasons to think there may be ways to contain and defeat the virus. And lessons to learn for the future.
The first cases of AIDS were described in June 1981 and it took more than two years to identify the virus (HIV) causing the disease. With COVID-19, the first cases of severe pneumonia were reported in China on December 31, 2019 and by January 7 the virus had already been identified. The genome was available on day 10. We already know that it is a new coronavirus from group 2B, of the same family as the SARS, which we have called SARSCoV2. The disease is called COVID-19. It is thought to be related to coronavirus of bats. Genetic analyses have confirmed that it has a recent natural origin (between the end of November and the beginning of December) and that, although viruses live by mutating, its mutation rate may not be very high.
The strong control and isolation measures imposed by China are paying off. For several weeks now, the number of cases diagnosed every day is decreasing. A very detailed epidemiological follow-up is being carried out in other countries; outbreaks are very specific to areas, which can allow them to be controlled more easily.
The disease causes no symptoms or is mild in 81% of cases. Of course, in the remaining 14%, it can cause severe pneumonia and in 5% it can become critical or even fatal. It is still unclear what the death rate may be. Be it could be lower than some estimates so far.
The vaccine group of the University of Queensland, in Australia, has announced that it is already working on a prototype using the technique called “molecular clamp”, a novel technology. This is just one example that could allow vaccine production in record time. Prototypes may soon be tested on humans.
This content was originally published here.