It’s been more than eight months, starting from March 2019, when WHO declared a coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic. Coronavirus disease or COVID-19 is a deadly viral disease caused by coronavirus or SARS-CoV2.
Though, there are so many perceptions about it and the actual cause of origin is still unknown. But the virus is said to be first detected at fish market of Wuhan city in China and from there it spreaded like a Wildfire.
As per John Hopkins coronavirus dashboard (October 2020), the total number of infections has reached 46,196,087 and death toll reached 1,197,194. But still there are no signs of relief.
Background of coronavirus disease
17 years ago, in 2003 a similar virus with crown like structure caused a fatal disease named SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome). However, the situation was now here close to COVID19. The implementation of appropriate infection control practices brought the global outbreak to an end.
Not only SARS, but there are a number of respiratory diseases like influenza taking our life like a slow poison. If you look at the figures, they are not very encouraging.
“According to estimates by the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (US-CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO) and global health partners, up to 650,000 deaths annually are associated with respiratory diseases”.
If we analyse these figures, it clearly gives an indication that respiratory health is under severe attack and we are in a state of constant denial to accept it as a threat. May be we are facing repercussions in the form of COVID-19. COVID-19 can be called an evolved version of influenza like diseases. Everyone is not susceptible to it but still everyone is not safe.
Unlocking the science behind COVID19
Before moving forward for a solution, let’s talk about the chemistry behind the disease. It will help us to find an effective solution. The disease itself is not dangerous. But it is the inherent nature of the virus that helps it to spread like a wildfire & transform into a deadly disease.
We can decode its spread in following ways
1. The Basic Reproduction number(R0)
The first point that needs to be considered is, “The Basic Reproduction number(R0)”, is intended to be an indicator of the contagiousness or transmissibility of infectious agents.
For COVID-19, R0 = 2-2.5
It means every corona infected person can transmit disease to more than 2 persons. Although, the numbers sound very small, when we reach up to the 10th round of transmission nearly 2047 persons have been infected and this number is alarming.
2. Incubation period
It is the period between infection and the appearance of symptoms of the disease.
For Flu = 2 days.
For COVID-19 =12 to 14 days.
These 14 days with the multiplier effect of the basic reproduction number results into the rise of infections into thousands to millions. This pattern is clearly visible in countries like the USA, Italy, Brazil & India.
Immunization is the process of developing immunity with the help of vaccines. This method is so effective that it has saved humanity from many deadly infectious diseases- smallpox, plague, cholera, malaria, polio, Japanese encephalitis to name a few.
But for COVID-19, till now there is no vaccine available. Even though research is under development and showing very promising results, they are still far from reality. In the absence of vaccines, it has become very difficult to control the spread of the disease.
4. Fatality rate
Also known as case fatality rate (CFR), It is the proportion of deaths from a disease compared to the total number of people diagnosed with the disease for a particular period. It is expressed as a percentage and represents a measure of disease severity. Higher the number, higher the death.
For COVID-19, CFR= 1-3%
Looking at this figure you might feel it’s very small, but when you compare it with other disease, it becomes very big.
For flu, CFR= 0.1%.
It means the number of deaths caused by COVID-19 are 1000 times more than the conventional flu.
In most of the cases, higher CFR is accompanied with higher hospitalisation rate, for COVID-19, around 20-30%. This hospitalization rate severely stresses medical infrastructure, hence delays the recovery.
How to tackle the deadly coronavirus disease
Now the question arises: is it possible to win the battle over coronavirus disease?
After this long discussion my answer to you is, Yes!
Yes, we can fight coronavirus disease and win this battle.
The remedy lies itself in the disease, the way it spread. The only thing we need to do is, to formulate a multi-pronged strategy strengthened by the coordinator effort of the global community.
- First step includes combat against transmission (RO). Isolating infected people through institutional for home quarantine.
- Second step is to monitor incubation period. Especially those quarantined & the trace of their contacts.
- The third step is to develop a vaccine. Speed up regulatory approvals & short vaccine development life cycle with necessary checks & balances.
- Finally, time till the vaccine develops, do massive testing & impose strict enforcement of social distancing norms, restrict international movement & create mass awareness & surveillance.
It’s a tough time for humanity and a testing ground for our fundamental principles underlying economic policies, technology, medical science & ability to co-operate in this globalized world. The need of the hour is to take a lesson from this & walk hand in hand with better coordinated steps. It is needed to find a niche that builds a society with an inclusive, environment friendly & sustainable development.
Once again, most of European and Asian countries are on threat due to second wave of coronavirus. In many countries like England, Kyrgyzstan, Australia, Israel, South Korea etc., situations are alarming. Even in India, New Zealand and Japan, cases are emerging at pace. So, be alert stay safe and stay healthy by taking precautions effectively.