CoronaVirus Viruses

What Are the Major Studies For The Treatment Of COVID-19?

We’ve been concerned about the democratic aspect treatment of the COVID-19 since the very beginning of the vaccine-research. It’s crucial that when the cure is invented, everyone has equal rights for getting it. But what are the options for the treatment of coronavirus at this moment? Are there any serious candidates to “infect us” with a bit of hope in these hard times?

What Are the Major Studies For The Treatment Of COVID-19?

A few words on “Solidarity” 

“Solidarity” is an international clinical trial to help find an effective treatment for COVID-19. It was launched by the World Health Organization and partners. It will compare four treatment options against the standard of care, to assess their relative effectiveness against COVID-19. By enrolling patients in multiple countries, the trial aims to rapidly discover whether any of the drugs slow disease progression or improve survival. Until there is sufficient evidence, WHO cautions against physicians and medical associations recommending or administering these unproven treatments to patients with COVID-19 or people self-medicating with them. WHO is also concerned about self-medicating with chloroquine which may cause serious harm! 

The pressure COVID-19 puts on health systems results in fastening the speed of the research. Randomized clinical trials normally take years to design and conduct. The “Solidarity” trial will reduce this time by 80%. Enrolling patients in one single randomized trial will help facilitate the rapid worldwide comparison of unproven treatments. It will also overcome the risk of multiple small trials that don’t generate the strong evidence needed to determine the effectiveness of potential treatments.

The “Solidarity” trial provides simplified procedures to enable even overloaded hospitals to participate, with no paperwork required. As of April 8, 2020, over 90 countries are working together to find effective therapeutics as soon as possible, via the trial. The greater the number of participating countries, the faster results will be generated. 

BenevolentAI on the offensive

Another current, significant study is based on BenevolentAI research. It’s a startup that raised $292 million to apply AI to create drugs faster. As of 14th April,  they claim to have uncovered an already approved drug as a potential treatment for COVID-19, after it applied its AI platform and team to the problem. The BenevolentAI activity kicked-off in February with a team of specialists. Joanna Shields, BenevolentAI CEO, explains: “In response to the COVID-19 global health emergency, we turned our AI drug discovery and development platform toward understanding the body’s response to this novel infectious disease.

[…] rather than focusing solely on drugs that could affect the virus directly, we explored ways to inhibit the cellular processes that the virus uses to infect human cells”. The idea was to inhibit the “cytokine storm” and reduce the inflammatory damage associated with this disease since diseases such as COVID-19 and influenza can be fatal due to an overreaction of the body’s immune system called a cytokine storm. Cytokines are small proteins released by many different cells in the body, including those of the immune system, where they coordinate the body’s response against infection and trigger inflammation.

Next ground for cautious optimism

A biotech company Gilead Sciences’ experimental drug Remdesivir was already applied to a few patients. What were the results? Gilead Sciences published an analysis in the New England Journal of Medicine on Friday 10th April tracking the responses of 53 patients with severe cases of COVID-19 given out on a compassionate-use basis — patients were given the unapproved drug because no other options were available. Doctors observed clinical improvement in 36 of the 53 patients; eight got worse, and seven died. Doctors were able to take 17 of the 30 patients who were on ventilators, life-support devices that help people breathe, off the machines. The authors of the study note that the death rate of the patients they observed — 13 percent — is lower than the death rate of 17 to 78 percent in China among people who are severely ill with COVID-19.

Side effects included diarrhea, rash, renal impairment, and hypotension. Unfortunately, there was no randomized control group, which would have allowed the authors to compare how patients given a placebo performed relative to those given Remdesivir. “We cannot draw definitive conclusions from these data, but the observations from this group of hospitalized patients who received Remdesivir are hopeful” – said Jonathan Grein, lead author of the analysis and director of hospital epidemiology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles – “We look forward to the results of controlled clinical trials to potentially validate these findings”. Many further studies and answers are needed. 

Views for the future

These above-mentioned new coronavirus treatments are offering new insights into experimental drugs to treat COVID-19. These revelations could offer a glimmer of hope to a world locked down by the pandemic.

CoronaVirus Infections (Bacterial and Viral) Viruses

Italy Facing COVID-19: Crucial Turnabouts In The Italian Antivirus Actions

Why Italy?

The coronavirus infections drama, initially China-located and powerfully spreading out there (in other words – far away), kicked off in Europe in the most prominent Italian city, Milan, known as the world capital of design and fashion, at the beginning of February. If such an easily-spreading infection was supposed to flourish anywhere, it’s not surprising that it happened in Milan! Thousands of people land on Milanese airports daily, not only for powerful business affairs but also for innocent sightseeing (Duomo – The Cathedral is truly spectacular in every season), and to taste a famous “dolce vita” experience. Milan, or more precisely a nearby Bergamo and Malpensa airports, happen to be also stopovers on the way to Como and Gerda lake, Venice, Verona, or even a ski spot Livigno. 

Italy Facing COVID-19: Crucial Turnabouts In The Italian Antivirus Actions

The beginnings 

The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 was first confirmed in the Republic of Italy on 31 January 2020 in the Chinese tourist in Rome. A cluster of cases was later detected, starting with 16 confirmed cases in Lombardy on 21 February, and 60 cases and the first deaths on 22 February. Milan is not only the capital of the Lombardy region but it’s also Italy’s heart. Needless to say, the current, heartbreaking circumstances and actions taken by the government are crucial for the development of the situation in the whole country’s organism. As of 8 April 2020, Italy has 95,262 active cases and 17,669 deaths, and 26,491 recoveries or dismissals. An impressive number of 807,100 tests were conducted. 

The people’s approach and steps were taken by politics

The activity of this richest Italian region wasn’t frozen instantly. The plot of COVID-19 activity was twisted enough to worsen the situation, before it started to get slightly better, around the beginning of April 2020. Coronavirus is “democratic” – the personal assistant of Attilio Fontana, the President of Lombardy, was infected and happily recovered. When the government started to acknowledge the seriousness of COVID-19, and the speed with which it’s conquering Italian lungs, they started to close all the places where gatherings could take place. You’ll guess that there are more than plenty of them in Milan! But Mediterranean personality doesn’t fancy giving up on collective fun. Enough to say, people were still looking for smart and hidden ways to stay together. They seemed unaware that spending time in groups was prohibited not for political reasons but for the sake of their health.

Painful mistakes and turnabouts

There were two actions taken by the government and the media, which turned out to work pretty badly for the common good and health of the Italian citizens, even if they were based on good intentions. The first was a public announcement that the novel coronavirus was nothing more than a “bad flu”. The media were calming people down to stop them from panic buying, panic talks, and… well, we all know the panic-driven mass behaviors. In short, the news confirmed by the authority, the doctor from the Milanese hospital, that COVID-19 is nothing more than the coronavirus flu, took the shape of lets all chill, cool down, and everything’s gonna be okay. How was that notice taken?

Just as each of us would understand it at this point – high five and let’s go back to normal! The tension was therefore released and the streets became crowded again. To make it even worse, politicians took matters into their own hands and started to address emotional messages to citizens. Beppe Sala, the mayor of Milan, the one with a bright, calming smile, postponed the celebrated “Salone del Mobile”, the biggest furniture and interiors fair in the world, and sent the video of the city and the hashtag #Milanononsiferma to the internet. “Milan won’t stop”? Needless to say, that slogan was rather unfortunate on the occasion of COVID-19 infection spreading throughout the country. Let’s hit the streets again then! 

What caused the virus to spread so fast in Italy?

By the beginning of March, COVID-19 spread to all the regions of Italy. It stayed for such a long time in quarantined Lombardy, why did it go further eventually – you’re rightly wondering. In February, eleven municipalities in northern Italy were identified as the centers of the two main Italian clusters, and they were instantly placed under quarantine.

This situation was scary for all of us. People were “imprisoned” in red zones, couldn’t leave their cities or villages, and the policemen were constantly monitoring their actions. When on 8 March 2020, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte expanded the quarantine to all of Lombardy with more than 60 million people, the spontaneous movement arose. The citizens living in Milan and suburbs, but originally coming from the south of Italy, escaped from Lombardy in the night, just before the morning introduction of the new law. They took the night trains and hit the road in masses. The next day, the government was forced to expand the red zone to the whole country. On 11 March 2020, Prime Minister Conte prohibited nearly all commercial activity except for supermarkets and pharmacies. On 21 March, he added even more severe restrictions to the movement of people.

Italians carry it with pride

Italians are sweet – we must admit. All the positivity that radiates from them, make the coronavirus circumstances bearable: singing on the balconies altogether, free pizzas for doctors and nurses, unbroken optimism, the relaxing voice of the Prime Minister announcements, social initiatives (sometimes mistaken – like preparing cheering posters with all the neighborhood), as well as drones sent by mayors to chase walkers-by and their peculiar online messages to citizens; They do what’s needed and desired, but they do it with smiles and class. However, catastrophe is real and powerful. On 19 March, Italy became the country with the highest number of confirmed coronavirus deaths in the world.

Writer: Dobroslawa Nowak

Writer, researcher, independent curator, and artist. She graduated in Photography at the University of the Arts Poznań, and Psychology at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań. In 2018, she attended the Latest Trends in Visual Arts course at the Brera Academy in Milan. She contributes to various art magazines in English, Italian, French, and Polish.

CoronaVirus Viruses

What Does COVID-19 Outbreak Mean for People Living With Pulmonary Fibrosis

COVID-19, an acronym for coronavirus disease 2019, is a highly contagious respiratory infection caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), which is a newly emerged pathogen first detected in Wuhan, China in December last year. The COVID-19 outbreak began spreading rapidly worldwide and is now declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). 

What Does COVID-19 Outbreak Mean for People Living With Pulmonary Fibrosis

As SARS-CoV-2 is a new virus, nobody possesses prior immunity to the virus, which means all humans are prone to contract COVID-19. The virus primarily spreads through respiratory droplets produced if an infected person sneezes or coughs within a distance of six feet from other people. Taking into account the experiences across the world and more recently in the United States, it has been identified that people with chronic health problems are at higher risk of developing serious illness from COVID-19, specifically, people living with pulmonary fibrosis, which is a genuine concern as the number of people affected by COVID-19 is increasing steadily. Individuals above 60 years of age are also at the highest risk of COVID-19. 

Rapidly Evolving COVID-19 Outbreak needs to be Closely Monitored 

To evaluate the potential health implications from COVID-19 to the pulmonary fibrosis community in the United States, it is essential to keep tabs on the evolving COVID-19 outbreak. 

According to a recent survey, at least 200,000 people have been diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis in the United States, but it was found that more than 8 in 10 people were unaware of the symptoms of this lung disease. Being a progressive disease, pulmonary fibrosis causes scarring in the lungs, and symptoms include persistent dry cough, fatigue, and shortness of breath. People suffering from respiratory diseases including pulmonary fibrosis are more likely to develop severe complications from novel coronavirus illness (COVID-19) if they get infected, and therefore, they should seek medical attention as soon as the symptoms appear. COVID-19 leads to inflammation and injury within the lungs and in some people with a compromised immune system or a chronic health condition, it can progress into a serious illness. 

Generally, the symptoms of COVID-19 develop between 2 -14 days of exposure to the novel coronavirus. While symptoms vary from mild flu-like illness to severe breathing difficulty, most common symptoms include:

  • Fever ( temperature measuring over 100.4 °F)
  • Worsening dry cough
  • Body ache, headache, tiredness
  • Shortness of breath

People with pulmonary fibrosis should seek immediate medical attention if following signs develop:

  • Difficulty in breathing or feeling short of breath more than usual
  • Persistent chest pain
  • Bluish discoloration of lips and face
  • Increase in oxygen requirement

People Living with Pulmonary Fibrosis should take Special Precautions

As people living with pulmonary fibrosis are considered to be at higher risk of COVID-19 and more likely to develop a more severe infection than the others, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has advised people with pulmonary fibrosis to take extra precautions to protect themselves and limit complications. Apart from personal hygiene habits and social distancing measures, people with pulmonary fibrosis need to take up these preventive measures:

  • Stocking up on essential items such as medications and other supplies that will last for several weeks
  • Avoiding non-essential travel
  • Staying at home
  • If symptoms similar to a viral illness develop and if there is a travel history to a high-risk area in the past 40 days, self-isolate at home for 14 days. 
  • Maintain a daily care regimen and call a health care provider if COVID-19-like symptoms develop. 

Family members and Caregivers of People with Pulmonary Fibrosis play an Important Role

To prevent COVID-19 spread, the family members and caregivers of people with pulmonary fibrosis should take extra care of themselves and follow appropriate precautions if they develop COVID-19 symptoms. Self-isolation is the best method to avoid COVID-19 spread. The caregivers of people with pulmonary fibrosis should monitor their health status constantly and help them stock necessary medications and other supplies for several weeks. To minimize trips to the grocery store, it is essential to store non-perishable food items. 

During this COVID-19 outbreak, pulmonary rehabilitation appointments may be avoided, instead, home exercise programs may be followed after discussing with the pulmonary rehabilitation center. 

Management of COVID-19 outbreak

Currently, health organizations such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the CDC, and other infectious disease researchers are collaborating to study the transmission of the novel coronavirus and to develop a vaccine to prevent COVID-19, without which containment of this virus would be difficult.

 Most symptoms of COVID-19 are mild and nearly 80% of people who get infected by this virus recover without any specialized treatment. About 1 in 6 patients with COVID-19 may develop serious breathing difficulties, which would require major interventions such as oxygen therapy and mechanical ventilation in conditions of respiratory failure. 

About the author:

Gregory A. Cade is the owner and principal attorney at the Environmental Litigation Group, P.C, with over 20 years of experience in helping people exposed to occupational hazards. The law firm based in Birmingham, Alabama and a branch office in Washington, DC serves clients from all over the United States. With a solid science background in Industrial Hygiene, Gregory has also been an OSHA compliance expert and an environmental consultant. 

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CoronaVirus Viruses

Scientists Identify 69 Drugs to Test Against the Coronavirus

At present, hundreds of scientists scramble to discover the right coronavirus treatment. It occurs that about 69 drugs and experimental compounds may be effective in treating the coronavirus. Some of them already treat other diseases. Scientists assume that repurposing them for COVID-19 may be faster than inventing a new drug from scratch. Research into the coronavirus pandemic showed progress on Tuesday 24th March, as scientists continued to post updated findings at unprecedented speed. 

Scientists Identify 69 Drugs to Test Against the Coronavirus

How does the virus work and how to beat it?

First of all, let’s take a quick and amateur look at how the new coronavirus acts inside an organism. To infect a lung cell of a human, the invader must insert its genes, co-opting the cell’s genetic machinery. At this point, the cell begins to produce viral proteins. They are further used to produce millions of new viruses and spread them over. For this process to work, each of those viral proteins must be able to latch onto the necessary human proteins.

There are two ways that viral proteins work. Some of them target just one human protein, other, a dozen human cellular proteins. Scientists are in search of drugs that also latch onto human proteins. If these medicines attach to them, they will be able to prevent the virus from attaching to those same proteins, and thereby, can stop the virus from entering human cells and replicating. Intriguingly, the list of potential candidates includes antibiotics that kill bacteria by gumming up the cellular machinery they use to build proteins. It appears that some of those drugs also attach to human proteins. The new study raises the possibility of this side effect being an antiviral treatment.

In search of the treatment

Among two dozen of the medicines under investigation, there is chloroquine, a drug used to treat malaria. There is some “anecdotal” evidence that it may be effective, but it’s not proven. Nonetheless, the U.S. President Donald Trump already called chloroquine a “game-changer” in the fight against COVID-19. Hundreds of researchers meticulously study the new coronavirus, also known as SARS-CoV-2. They have already investigated 26 of the coronavirus’s 29 genes, which direct production of the viral proteins. They also found 332 human proteins targeted by the coronavirus. In the meantime, in New York’s and Paris’ laboratories, researchers started testing 22 of the possible compounds against live coronavirus.

What kinds of drugs might be helpful?

You may be wondering, what’s on the list? Among others, it contains medicines used to treat such seemingly unrelated diseases as cancer, Parkinson’s disease, Ebola, HIV, and hypertension. Other candidates are haloperidol – schizophrenia drug, and metformin for type 2 diabetes. Currently, in clinical trials, there are even drugs commonly used to attack parasites. Like chloroquine that kills the single-celled parasite that causes malaria.

Why chloroquine? Scientists are aware that it can attach to a human cellular protein called the sigma-1 receptor. And that receptor is also the target of the virus. Well-run trials are a must to discover if the use of it will be safe and effective against the COVID-19. The World Health Organization announced on 18th March that it would begin a trial on chloroquine. It was shown, though, that chloroquine might have many toxic side effects because it targets many human cellular proteins, not only the ones “interested” – as Nevan Krogan claims, a biologist at the University of California, San Francisco.

What about the vaccines? What will happen after?

There are currently no proven drug treatments or vaccines against the coronavirus, however, scientists across the world work hard to develop both. It will take about 12 to 18 months before a coronavirus vaccine becomes available to the general population. Then, it must be shared fairly. International researchers have already identified 69 drugs and compounds, and they race to discover new ways to fight the pandemic. Already used drugs are being re-studied to use them against COVID-19. It seems a better way than discovering utterly new medicine. The study containing a list of proposed medicines and compounds, co-authored by nearly 100 researchers, was published on a website for preprinted biology studies called bioRxiv. 

CoronaVirus Infections (Bacterial and Viral) Viruses

The Coronavirus Isn’t Alive. That’s Why It’s So Hard to Kill

The dark secret behind the novel coronavirus’s actions is that it isn’t a living organism. Maybe that’s what makes it so sneaky and difficult to defeat? The main hero of today’s press is a small infectious agent that replicates only inside the living cells of an organism. It encodes its genetic material in RNA. In other words, coronavirus is just a little more than a packet of genetic material, surrounded by a spiky protein shell, one-thousandth the width of an eyelash. But its power is undeniable! By 26th March 2020, the COVID-19 sickened 350,000 and killed more than 15,000 people. We already know that SARS-CoV-2 will radically transform the U.S., we are only not yet sure which parts of it will suffer most. 

The Coronavirus Isn’t Alive. That’s Why It’s So Hard to Kill

More about the little livings (or non-livings) called viruses

Viruses are responsible for the most destructive outbreaks of the past 100 years: the cases of flu (1918, 1957 and 1968), SARS, MERS, and Ebola. They are all zoonotic, which means that they jumped from an animal population into humans. It appears that viruses can infect all types of life forms, from animals and plants to microorganisms, including bacteria and archaea.

With their zombie-like existence, they are barely considered a living organism. They appear to be a life form because they carry genetic material, reproduce, and evolve through natural selection. However, they lack key characteristics, such as cell structure, generally considered necessary to be treated as a living organism. They also possess some “living” qualities, though. Viruses are described as “organisms at the edge of life” and replicators. It makes them easy to catch, but hard to kill at the same time. Gary Whittaker, a Cornell University professor of virology puts it: “Viruses are switching between alive and not alive” and “are somewhere between chemistry and biology”. 

Everything for survival 

Viruses have spent billions of years perfecting the art of surviving without the actual living. They know exactly how to cope with this situation. We can see during the new coronavirus pandemic that this strategy is so effective that it makes them a potent threat worldwide. However, outside a host, viruses are dormant. They have none of the traditional life features: metabolism, motion, ability to reproduce. When it gets into a human airway, the virus hijacks cells of an invaded organism to create millions of more versions of itself. As we can observe, this mechanism is sneaky enough to wreak havoc worldwide. The word “virus” comes from the Latin “neuter virus” referring to poison and other noxious liquids.

Where do they live and where do they come from?

The new coronavirus brought global society to a screeching halt, but viruses exist wherever there is life and probably have since living cells first evolved. Their origin is unclear because they don’t form fossils. Only molecular techniques can be used to investigate how they arose. What’s more, viral genetic material occasionally integrates into the germline of the host organisms. This way, they can be passed on vertically to the offspring of the host for many generations. For paleo-virologists, this provides an invaluable source of information to trace back ancient viruses, up to millions of years ago. Three main hypotheses try to explain the origins of viruses, but none of them is confirmed yet. In the meantime, researchers race to develop drugs and vaccines.

What is coronavirus actually doing in our organisms?

How does it work? Coronavirus pathogens find easy transfer in humans without their knowledge. Now, before the first host even develops symptoms, a virus is already spreading its replicas. It’s pretty genial! People often pass it to others before they even know they have it. On one hand, the new coronavirus is powerfully deadly in some infected people. On the other, it’s mild enough in others, so it manages to escape from the total containment. Respiratory viruses replicate in the nose and throat, where they are highly contagious, or in the lungs, where they spread less easily, but are much more deadly. SARS-CoV-2 dwells in the upper respiratory tract, where it’s easily spread on the next victim by sneezing or coughing. 

CoronaVirus Viruses

Can Your Marriage Survive The Coronavirus?

Besides the front-line – the coronavirus-related health worries, there are a few more concerns, especially those regarding the mental part of this struggle. We all go through the quarantine period. Some of us remained closed in houses with their spouses for the first time. Even within the happiest and most stable marriages, COVID-19 will provide fireworks and challenges never seen before. How to protect your marriage? Will your union survive this experiment? Let’s look closer at this unprecedented case.

Can Your Marriage Survive The Coronavirus?

The unprecedented struggle

Social distancing to combat the spread of the virus is one thing, social gathering in houses, with families and spouses, during the quarantine, is another. When we are confined to small spaces, it’s not surprising that at some point, the atmosphere may become dense. Not only staying together in one, restricted space, causes a new kind of experience, but we also have to balance work and personal life. In that period, this objective is valid 24 hours a day. God knows for how much longer. The bright side of the situation is that the coronavirus-related quarantine can be a perfect opportunity for greater understanding and learning about one another.

Practice communication

With your kids on board, whether they are newborns or unsubordinated teenagers, even more things can happen. Have you ever imagined a recipe for the family disaster? Just think about “The Shining” (1980) by Stanley Kubrick, and you’ll have a perfect view of possible happenings. Communication is a secret ingredient of any healthy relationship. It’s not only, but especially, during the new coronavirus pandemic. Maybe it’s worth asking, from time to time, how is your second half doing both physically and mentally? This period is the best occasion to start. Daily check-ins, or even little, sweet notes left here and there, can change your relationship for the better! It doesn’t matter how much you communicate, specialists claim, but that you try to.

Talk and respect your space

If both spouses have a different perspective on the same event, this is when problems are born. Communication is highly needed. Spouses are almost never used to spending all the time together. This is a novel circumstance, and as such, it needs new approaches. Usually, at least one partner leaves the house and goes to work. Currently, as employees work from home, both partners are required to sit at home due to government-mandated lockdowns. Spending all the time under the same roof is a challenge, especially in smaller households.

How to deal with the need for personal space? Couples’ specialists suggest learning the importance of alone time and try to respect it. Try to identify whether you need a partner to regulate your emotions, or you find comfort in regulating on your own. If you’re the second case, you should let yourselves breathe in separate spaces, as much as possible to stay calm, and remain close to your real self. Also, if your partner is an auto-regulator, avoid pursuing him to engage, or you will wake up his worst demons. Maybe the best way to go through a tense situation with your partner will be to just put on headphones and meditate? What about sitting quietly in a corner? Such a quiet spot may be a good idea to regain peace for both of you.

Leave tough issues for later and share what you can’t stand

There was an anecdote, a comic advice circling the internet, saying that partners suddenly forced to work from home together, should create an imaginary co-worker to blame for the disagreements. For example “Cheryl”, who keeps leaving her dirty water cups all over the place. Make an invisible “Cheryl” a scapegoat for all the things one of you do, that annoy the other. It will help to keep the atmosphere lighter and funnier in the household, temporarily known as prison. Partners who stay at home due to the new coronavirus, also find solace in sharing online their private stories of what has gone wrong. They embrace #CovidConfessions, a novel social media phenomenon, through which people share truths about their lives.

CoronaVirus Viruses

Understanding The Economic Shock of Coronavirus

Understanding The Economic Shock of Coronavirus

Many U.S. threats have been recently talked through on the newspapers’ front pages. One of them is a health care system, which is not able to cover the upcoming COVID-19 catastrophe among its citizens. Another one is the economic shock or economic collapse, a more complex issue that needs further explanations. Governments around the world force societies to social distancing, which aims at physically disrupting the contagion. However, at the same time, this practice severs the flow of goods and people. What happens to economics, while we are fighting the pandemic over, among human beings? It stalled and awaits the global recession. We can even risk calling this process an economic contagion. It has nothing to do with bats. It’s caused by people.

Forecasting the trend

As the virus began to spread, markets, politicians, and policymakers, well-prepared by the pattern of historical outbreaks, were just wishful about its fast end and were patiently looking forward to it. Unfortunately, economic costs continue to get higher. Predicting the path is impossible since this crisis is unprecedented. Naming a global recession doesn’t bring much clarity to the table. Is the expectation of negative growth all that we can say about the situation right now? Is there any optimistic forecast for a sudden, surprising upside-down trend?

The economic path currently faces shock but will also see some kind of recovery in the future. Returning to the pre-shock output levels and growth rates will be possible one day, at least this is what we want to believe. Or is there any serious scar going to remain forever, a structural legacy from the coronavirus crisis meant to stay?

Well-known methods to manage pandemics

The only known approach to effectively address the virus infection is the window for social distancing. Unfortunately, it was missed at the beginning, in Hubei province. The remaining part of China made sure not to forget about it. The same in Italy.

The rest of Europe follows governmental restrictions as well since testing has started for good and revealed the real number of infected citizens. In the U.S., still constrained by insufficient testing, the early window was also missed. The properties of COVID-19 are not fully understood and change with time. The true rates of infection are highly uncertain, and the reason for it is mainly limited testing. Therefore, as the disease proliferates, the U.S. will have to make social-distancing measures more and more strict (broader and longer), which will deepen the economic crisis by choking activities at almost every level. We shouldn’t forget that every time we try to put people back to work at a normal pace, another wave of infection becomes a real possibility. Resurgences of the virus in Singapore and Hong Kong are a good example.

The measures of “shock” 

3.28 million — unemployment claims in the U.S. is a historically unprecedented figure. Policy delay reactions, firms, and households have a right to feel economically uncertain. The concept of a recession is an unsatisfactory relic. Nowadays, it has to be more of a descriptive measure because of the unprecedented situation. Talking about going from positive to negative growth is not enough to explain what’s going on. In this case, we are talking about a kind of economic “shock”. 

Historical examples

In history, there are at least three examples of various responses to the financial crisis. Let’s start with Canada in 2008. Their economic reaction to the crisis had a V-shape form. The country avoided a banking crisis. Credit continued to flow, and capital formation was not disrupted significantly. Avoiding a deeper collapse aimed at keeping the labor force in place and preventing skill atrophy. GDP dropped but then got back to the initial path. The output was displaced, but growth eventually rebounded to its old path. In the U.S., the shock took U-shape.

Growth dropped rapidly and never rebounded to the original track. The growth rate recovered, but the gap between the old and new remains large. U-shape is a more costly version of reaction to the crisis than Canada’s V-shape. Greece reacted with the L-shape trajectory. Not only have they never recovered the prior output path but also the growth rate has declined. The distance is widening, and the lost output is continuously growing. The crisis has left lasting structural damage to the economy’s supply side. Capital inputs, labor inputs, and productivity are repeatedly damaged.

CoronaVirus Viruses

Lost Sense of Smell May Be Peculiar Clue to Coronavirus Infection

As time goes by, more and more surprising effects of the researches on the novel coronavirus appear. The medical community is still putting all the pieces together. The evolution of medical knowledge is filled with trial-and-error, patience, and diligence. Just recently, it has been observed that one of the Coronavirus infection early symptoms may be the loss of sense of smell and taste. Doctors around the world are getting more insight into the types of symptoms that the new coronavirus’ patients might have. It’s decidedly good news! 

Lost Sense of Smell May Be Peculiar Clue to Coronavirus Infection

What is anosmia and ageusia?

The American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery believe that detecting anosmia and dysgeusia can indicate the COVID-19 infection. Anosmia is the total or partial loss of the sense of smell, while ageusia is the loss of taste functions of the tongue. These symptoms are now officially added to the list of screening tools for the illness. However, a diminished sense of taste and smell can be symptomatic of a wide variety of illnesses, respiratory or otherwise. It’s not a specific, nor a uniquely distinctive feature of COVID-19. A temporary loss or reduction in your smell or taste during every respiratory infection is quite common. 

Contribution to slowing transmission

This symptom may show up, even if there are no other signs. That’s why anyone who develops a loss of sense of smell should self-isolate. It’s crucial to spread the news because a knowledge that a lost sense of smell and taste are peculiar telltale signs of Covid-19, could contribute to slowing transmission and save lives. The strength of that symptom isn’t subtle and easy to overlook. Imagine an infected mother who couldn’t smell her baby’s full diaper. 

Global research 

The US doctors are not the only ones to notice that fact. They are citing reports from colleagues around the world, among which France, Iran, Italy, Germany, etc. In South Korea, 30 percent of 2,000 patients who tested positive, and were mild cases, experienced anosmia as their major presenting symptom. The data published is still limited but doctors all over the globe raise warnings. The information popped across social media among infected individuals as well. These facts regarding COVID-19 are nothing new in general medicine. Sudden loss of smell may be associated with certain respiratory infections and previously described coronaviruses were known for causing similar symptoms. A significant number of COVID-19 patients suffering from the loss of sense of smell and taste in South Korea, China, and Italy has been observed. In Germany, more than 2 in 3 confirmed cases have anosmia.  

What about accompanying allergies or sinusitis?

Doctors confirm that it’s normal to temporarily lose one’s sense of smell with many viral infections or allergies. Respiratory viruses can cause sinusitis. When cavities around the nasal passages become inflamed, it inhibits a person’s ability to smell. Sense and smell are interconnected, so distortion of the sense of taste is a natural consequence. In the absence of allergies or sinusitis, symptoms should alert doctors. Only a full clinical study integrating this symptom provides clarity. 

Hidden carriers

Some people are hidden-carriers of the virus. They don’t have any other signs of this illness and seem healthy, but they are carrying the virus and may be spreading it forward. The most common COVID-19 symptoms include cough, fever, shortness of breath, headaches, and general aches and pains. Some patients also report digestive issues like diarrhea. In 200 of the earliest patients in China, digestive or stomach symptoms occurred in about half of them. Even if it was believed at first, that the virus affects solely the respiratory tract. Fever and cough and shortness of breath still prevail over other symptoms. A large percentage of the infected patients are asymptomatic or experience a loss of sense of smell and/or taste. 

What should doctors do during the pandemic?

As a result of these discoveries, health care workers should use personal protective equipment when treating patients who have lost their senses of smell. Otolaryngologists typically treat smell and taste disorders. The virus replicates in the nose and the throat, so any medical exams in this area can prompt coughs or sneezes that expose the doctor to infection. Doctors of this specialty are among the highest risk groups when performing upper airway surgeries and examinations.

Lost Sense of Smell May Be Peculiar Clue to Coronavirus Infection

CoronaVirus Viruses

Can Kids Catch Coronavirus? What Do We Know About Children And Coronavirus?

What we know for sure about children and coronavirus is that they are home-schooled during the pandemic. Scientists often say that the older you are, the worse the infection can end up for you. It seems, therefore, that children are largely unharmed by the disease. Is it the correct answer?  

Can Kids Catch Coronavirus? What Do We Know About Children And Coronavirus?

Coronavirus in children and adults

A small percentage of kids develop a serious illness from COVID-19 – a study published March 16 in the journal Pediatrics suggests. It analyzed information from more than 2,000 cases, where about 90% were mild or moderate, with fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, sneezing, and sometimes pneumonia. Around 6% of children developed severe or critical illness with hypoxia, shortness of breath, and low levels of oxygen in body tissues. Children develop acute respiratory distress syndrome rarely. It’s a life-threatening condition that prevents oxygen from getting to the lungs, and into the bloodstream. Of the 125 children who developed severe illness, more than 60% were 5 years old or younger. All the sobering news about the new coronavirus find parents relieved with this one detail – the health effects are generally milder on children. However, there are still many unknowns to discover through researches.

What about a health condition?

In China, 2.4% of all identified cases regarded people under 19 years old. Only 2.5% of them had severe symptoms. Respiratory conditions, such as asthma, often result in more severe cases. It’s not sure, however, whether COVID-19 will affect children with asthma more severely. Similarly with diabetes. It’s a significant risk factor for adults, but it has not been confirmed if it’s the same for children. Parents should be vigilant nonetheless. 

Children in the times of pandemic – how to prevent them from infection?

Children can be infected and are able to transmit coronavirus. Parents should teach their kids to do the same things adults do to stay healthy. Social distancing is just as important for them. Children that stay at home will also need regular exercise. Moreover, soap and warm water or hand sanitizer for at least 20 seconds are a must. Try singing ABC – it takes exactly the amount of time needed to have their hands disinfected well. If your children disagree to wash their hands, give them a small reward, such as a sticker, to celebrate each time they agree to do it. Kids should wash their hands every time they use the bathroom, before eating (even snacks), after coming inside from playing outdoors and especially and immediately after sneezing, coughing or blowing their nose. Encourage everyone in the family to cough and sneeze into their elbow. Then throw away tissues after they are used.

Prevention in details

Remember to stay away from people who cough and sneeze. Since there is currently no vaccine, parents should do everything they can to protect children from getting a coronavirus. Children, just as adults, are exposed to COVID-19 when the virus contacts their eyes, nose, or mouth. Parents should also remind children to avoid touching their face as much as possible. It can help if kids carry a toy, this will keep their hands busy. Toys should be washed regularly. Children, just as adults, can get COVID-19 when the virus contacts their eyes, nose, or mouth. Parents should remind children to avoid touching their face as much as possible. It can help if kids carry a toy. It will keep their hands busy. Toys should be washed regularly. Also, be sure to stay away from sick people. Avoid getting in touch with any person who coughs or sneezes (at least 6 feet far). Respiratory droplets released into the air are a real danger. Avoid crowds and keep your kids away from it. Since there is currently no vaccine, parents should do everything they can to protect children from getting a coronavirus. 

Household obligations become more strict

In a household where children live, cleaning is a daily activity. In the times of pandemic, be sure to clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces in common areas even more often. Take special care of tables, desks, remotes, toilets, hard-backed chairs, doorknobs, light switches, handles, and sinks. Laundry should be done regularly, with the warmest appropriate water setting. Wipe down toys and surfaces often. Clean surfaces and store cleaners secured with childproof cabinet locks.

Be a good example for your kid!

It helps when parents set a good example. Children will look to you when deciding how to feel about the threat. If you feel calm and prepared, they are likely to feel similarly. Address your child’s anxiety and stress. Talking things over is the best way to keep calm and identify specific fears. 

Can Kids Catch Coronavirus? What Do We Know About Children And Coronavirus?
CoronaVirus Viruses

How Can You Help During The Coronavirus Outbreak?

Daily, an overwhelming number of volunteers put themselves out there to help people in need. Not surprisingly, the same applies to the novel circumstances of the new coronavirus outbreak. A lot of you may be wondering how to help, to be the most efficient, and at the same time, to do more good than harm. 

How Can You Help During The Coronavirus Outbreak?

COVID-19 in the USA

Infections spread over throughout the US. Each state knows something about it. COVID-19 testing procedure came late, but not everything is lost. Keep in mind that some unprivileged groups will experience this public health crisis more than others: workers who can’t call in sick, older people, and those who don’t have access to quality health care. While many people are rushing to meet their needs by stocking up on supplies, certain groups will find it hard to do. There is physical and mental health, as well as economic impacts at stake. Schools’ and businesses’ closure is not the end of the story. There are people, the most vulnerable ones, who will need to be cared for during the pandemic. 

Basic ways of helping

The most important action regarding each individual is to stop spreading the virus by following health services’ instructions! It’s called flattening the curve. So, first of all, wash your hands and don’t touch your face – these come first. And stay home if possible. If you want to help more than this, non-profit organizations will know exactly what to do with your eagerness to help and your money. More than 1,000 volunteer groups set up to help those who self-isolate during the outbreak. Let’s browse some good examples to follow in your community.

What others came up with?

Social communities work together. A group of traders in Sherborne, Dorset, launched a service offering dog walking and home deliveries. 60 people came to volunteer within hours of launching. Leicestershire milkman Tony Fowler not only delivers his usual milk to his self-isolating customers over 70 but he also brings whatever they need, from toilet roll to light bulbs. Shops have created special shopping sessions for those most at risk of infection. Let’s not forget children across the country, painting rainbows and putting them up in their windows. Dame Vera Lynn tried to cheer the nation up by recording a video to mark her 103rd birthday. People are also keen to support bars, cafes, and restaurants during the outbreak. Those in need can request shopping, urgent supplies, or a friendly phone call, and their needs are met in their local communities. 

Volunteers’ groups are working hard. Feel free to join their efforts!

If you want to help in person, rather than transferring your money to the stranger organization’s bank account, there are plenty of actions to take! 

In the majority of countries where the outbreak recently took place, medical supplies need to be shipped in a larger amount than they would normally. The humanitarian group called Direct Relief has been delivering personal protective equipment including masks, gloves, gowns, and oxygen concentrators to China since January. They are devices that patients can use to breathe at home instead of staying at the hospital. The company recently bought about 500 oxygen concentrators for U.S. patients, committing $2 million to help the nonprofit community. If you wish to donate to Direct Relief, feel free to do it! 

Meals on Wheels delivers meals to older people who can’t leave their homes. During the outbreak, the demand has increased significantly. Meals on Wheels provides a kind of critical social interaction for many of its clients. They need some more healthy volunteers on call to make deliveries during the pandemic. Volunteer or donate to Meals on Wheels if you wish to help. 

Another crucial way of helping is by donating money to a reputable nonprofit organization. Philanthropists and corporations worldwide are happy to address the novel coronavirus crisis. The largest donors in the U.S. have been the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Nonetheless, you don’t have to be a billionaire to share your part. Charity Navigator and CharityWatch online present lists of vetted charities like Lutheran World Relief, American Red Cross, CDC Foundation, CERF+, Feeding America, Feed the Children, No Kid Hungry, Salvation Army, Team Rubicon, United Way Worldwide, Heart to Heart International, and Doctors Without Borders.

CoronaVirus Infections (Bacterial and Viral)

Coronavirus: What Happens to People’s Lungs When They Get Covid-19?

COVID-19 was first discovered in China in late 2019. At the time, the cluster of pneumonia cases with an unknown cause showed up out of nowhere. The reason turned out to be a new virus, never met before. It was called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, or Sars-CoV-2. 

Symptoms and possible outcomes

Most of the people who contract the virus suffer from mild, cold-like symptoms. Within a certain percent of patients, a severe respiratory illness develops. Possible symptoms may range from no symptoms to severe illness featuring pneumonia.  COVID-19 may cause death because of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). ARDS is a significant contribution to the deaths caused by COVID-19. As researches show, 50 of the 54 patients who died had developed it. Only 9 of the 137 survivors had ARDS. In conclusion, you better not get ARDS if you want to see the world after this apocalypse! 

Infection tracts and types of the illness

Viral droplets, transmitted from a cough or sneeze of the infected person, enter through your nose, mouth, or eyes. Up to this point, everything goes as usual. You may get the virus if you touch the surface covered with droplets, and then your face, nose, mouth, or eyes. 80% of infected people recover without any special treatment, WHO reports. One person in six is troubled with a more serious and longer health recovery process, often at the hospital’s intensive care. COVID-19 course is divided into four categories, such as 1) sub-clinical, the least serious, asymptomatic, 2) minor symptoms, with an infection in the upper respiratory tract (fever, cough, headache or conjunctivitis), 3) same flu-like symptoms that seem more serious and last longer, 4) severe illness that features pneumonia;

So how does pneumonia develop? 

The virus reaches the back of nasal passages and mucous membranes in the back of the throat. At this point, sore throat and dry cough take off. When COVID-19 takes the form of cough and fever, it means that infection has already reached the respiratory tree – the air passages that conduct it between the lungs and the outside. The infection goes down the gas exchange units at the end of the air passages. The respiratory tree’s lining becomes injured, causing inflammation. It irritates the nerves of the airway. At this point, even a speck of dust can provoke a grand cough. This situation sets the stage for pneumonia. When the lungs’ membranes become inflamed, it’s harder for them to work properly. Infected lungs respond by pouring out inflammatory material into the air sacs. Lungs filled with inflammatory material are unable to get enough oxygen to the bloodstream. The whole organism is inefficient in taking on oxygen and getting rid of carbon dioxide. COVID-19 may also, but comparably rarely, cause nausea, diarrhea or indigestion, in case it infects cells in the gastrointestinal system.

Is there a cure?

Unfortunately, at present, there is nothing that can stop people from getting COVID-19-caused pneumonia, apart from supportive treatment, which they get in intensive care, i.e. ventilation and maintaining high oxygen levels. In the most severe cases, the virus may lead to organ failure and death. Is COVID-19 pneumonia any different from casual? Most types of pneumonia are bacterial and can be cured with antibiotics. Pneumonia caused by this virus may be particularly severe because, instead of affecting just small parts, it tends to affect the whole lungs. The natural “first responder mechanism” can be impaired among people with diabetes, cancer, underlying lung, and heart conditions, the elderly (aged 65 and over), Indigenous Australians, infants aged 12 months and younger, and… smokers! 

COVID-19 and substance use

COVID-19 hit some populations with substance use disorders harder. The virus attacks the lungs, so those who vape, smoke tobacco, or marijuana may be especially threatened. The adverse effects of smoking or vaping are much more serious when it comes to this infection than among abstinents. Vaping affects the immune function in the nasal cavity by affecting cilia, which pushes foreign things out, so the ability of your upper airways to clear viruses is compromised. The odds of Covid-19 cases becoming more severe are 14 times higher among people who had a history of smoking, having a 14% higher risk of developing pneumonia.

CoronaVirus Infections (Bacterial and Viral)

How The Coronavirus Became an American Catastrophe

Surprisingly, almost every country goes through the same path when it comes to wide spreading COVID-19, even if things have been happening for long over the timeline. At first, it’s hard to believe it happened to us. Then, there is denial. That order of appearance of reactions takes place everywhere, not only in the USA where coronavirus currently becomes a catastrophe. Yet, more often than not, we could have avoided many damages and deaths if only things weren’t ignored for such a long time before. Let’s take under the magnifying glass the American catastrophe and a plenitude of deaths sweeping the United States at present.

How The Coronavirus Became an American Catastrophe

The very beginning – outburst

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals huge governmental misunderstanding when it comes to what, and when was happening in the US during the crucial moments of the outbreak. The main issue that many nations are forced to face sooner or later is preventive testing. What would happen if the US had started testing for the virus sooner? It’s likely that the virus began spreading in the United States in January. At the point when 15 Americans tested positive for COVID-19, everything could have still gone differently. It was on the last day of February 2020 – America’s last chance at containing COVID-19. On March 21st, about three weeks later, more than 17,000 people already tested positive. What has gone wrong in the meantime? 

Frightening forecast

Whereas seventeen thousand infected people are already quite a big number, specialists estimate an even larger sum to come up soon. The underestimation results from the tests not yet done, in other words, from undetected infections. Some scientists estimate that the new coronavirus has already infected an approximate of 87,000 Americans. The outbreak’s massive spread is still about to come. The previous outbursts in other countries show that unless aggressive action is taken now, the coronavirus has the potential to cause deaths of 2.2 million Americans fairly soon.

First, failed steps to accurate prevention

What did the USA government do when the city of Wuhan (China) overrun with COVID-19 sick people? For starters, foreigners were banned from entering the country, if they visited China. At the same time, Americans returning home weren’t monitored half as consequently and consistently. The president laughed off the virus, saying many more people had died of the flu in the US than have been reported killed by a coronavirus. All that, despite receiving warnings from his officials. The White House kept conducting its “business as usual”, not willing to change their routine. Democrats call COVID-19 the “new hoax”, and we are in trouble. The citizens’ polarize their response to precautionary public-health information. 

Profitable and overseen outcomes of testing

Not enough people have been tested for COVID-19. Outcomes of testing are specific and usable pieces of information: how to triage patients and hospitals when preparing their wards, how to gauge the severity of a local outbreak, how to allocate scarce masks and ventilators, how many people are sick right now? Without testing, there is only one measure left: counting the dead. The first person died of coronavirus in the US on February 29. By then, only 472 people were tested. Tests for coronavirus are America’s Achilles’ heel, the crack in the system that makes the US health situation worse. 

A long list of mistakes

What’s more, at the time when the testing process started, available testing kits had a nonfunctioning ingredient. The virus was already spreading, so every moment was important. Eventually, the Food and Drug Administration held up independent labs that had made their tests. Still, states and hospitals lacked the supplies to diagnose even a dangerously ill patient. The market began to collapse. By then, barely 1,000 people were tested. State officials unchangeably clung to restrictive rules of testing solely patients traveling internationally or exposed to the direct contact. The coronavirus was already spreading in American offices, daycares, and movie theaters. Doctors and nurses with all the symptoms of COVID-19 who could not prove exposure didn’t have a chance to get tested either.

What about… systems for pandemic planning?

The number of infected Americans doubles every six days of non-testing practice. The perfectly prepared systems for pandemic planning could have launched on, protecting millions of Americans and containing the illness, if only the testing part was covered. To contain the spread, you need to have some idea of where the disease is, early on in the epidemic. It didn’t happen in the USA. That’s why the new coronavirus has been so successful.

Asthma CoronaVirus Viruses

Have Asthma? This Is How Coronavirus Could Impact You

There is a common belief circling that the new coronavirus affects mostly people over their sixties. Another group put at great risk are individuals with pre-existing medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Although there is very little data to show an increased risk for Coronavirus from asthma, it’s listed as a comorbid risk-related condition. Other coronaviruses have been shown to exacerbate asthma, so it’s not excluded that COVID-19 also does so. 

Have Asthma? This Is How Coronavirus Could Impact You
Have Asthma? This Is How Coronavirus Could Impact You

Is there any evidence that younger people are less susceptible? The sad truth is that people of all ages can be infected by COVID-19. There is a reason, however, behind this misconception.

Older people have been mentioned more frequently in the course of the development of the virus because they are more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus. Younger individuals go through it similarly, like in the case of the ordinary flu. 

Let’s narrow the risky group down. What people with asthma need to know? Whereas each of us should take precautions, people suffering from asthma are obliged to follow advice much more strictly. They may be at higher risk of getting very sick. Illness can affect their respiratory tract (nose, throat, lungs), cause an asthma attack, and possibly lead to pneumonia and acute respiratory disease. Currently, there is no specific treatment for or vaccine to prevent COVID-19, so the best, and actually the only, way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to infection.

In times of pandemic, people with asthma, as well as every other high-risk group, should avoid crowds. Stay away from large gatherings! Don’t visit public venues like bars, restaurants, and cinemas. Remember about social distancing golden rule – about 6 feet from each other, avoid shaking hands, kissing people, and hugging them. Health care systems advise people on steroid tablets to take more stringent social distancing measures. Stay away from non-essential travel, especially on public transport. In the worst-case scenario, when your closest community gets infected, it’s recommended to stay home permanently. If possible, work from home then.

Stock up on supplies for at least 14-30 days. Clean and disinfect your home, especially items you touch often like light switches, doorknobs, cell phones, steering wheels, car door handles, etc. Avoid sharing personal household items. Wash your hands often! This is crucial. Use soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Wipe your nose or catch a sneeze with tissues, and then throw them to rubbish straight away. Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands aren’t clean. Last but not least, limit or completely cut off contact with people who are currently sick. 

Under any circumstances, don’t stop taking your daily asthma medicines to keep it under control. It’s the most important to protect yourself right now from getting things worse. There are concerns about the steroids in asthma inhalers (inhaled corticosteroids or oral corticosteroids, such as prednisone). It’s believed that they can weaken the immune system. Whereas inhaled corticosteroids won’t probably reduce the immune system, oral corticosteroids may.

Antihistamines also don’t suppress the immune system from functioning. In the case of COVID-19, the most important action to take is keeping your asthma under control. If it requires the use of these pharmaceuticals, then you should keep taking them with no doubt. Be assured that doctors advise not to pause your asthma medicines in any case (unless your healthcare provider clearly states that need!). Recognize how crucial it is to protect yourself from infection with meticulous self-care.

Asthma management steps are not changed, even in these hard times. It means that you should take your preventer inhaler daily as prescribed. It will help you cut the risk of an asthma attack being triggered by any respiratory virus, the new coronavirus included. If you leave home (which is not recommended whatsoever), always carry your blue reliever inhaler with you. Keep your peak flow diary. It’s a good way of tracking your asthma and noticing the difference between asthma and COVID-19 symptoms. If you’re a smoker, it’s vital to quit now, as smoking increases your risk of getting COVID-19. This is a scary time, but we will get through!

CoronaVirus Infections (Bacterial and Viral) Viruses

Which Masks Actually Protect Against Coronavirus (Covid-19)?

Can wearing a face mask protect you from the new coronavirus?

A lot has been said about masks. Moreover, there are various types of them. Since information on COVID-19 changes constantly, let’s review the version updated on the 5th of March 2020 regarding the masks and their potentially protective properties. It’s exceptionally important to know medical information from the right source. Media is hard to be trusted nowadays. What we want to know precisely is: Can wearing a medical face mask protect you against the new coronavirus?  

Which Masks Actually Protect Against Covid-19

First, let’s narrow the choice down. ‘Face masks’ is quite a wide category. A regular surgical face mask isn’t going to help you steer clear of the virus – as Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, says. A more specialized one – N95 respirator, can protect against the new coronavirus. It’s thicker than a surgical mask, but at this point, it’s not recommended for public use.

Worth mentioning, it’s not so easy to make a mask work well, even if it seems so simple. You just put it on and go, what more is there to be aware of? Specialists receive retraining annually to learn how to properly fit it around the chin, nose, and cheeks. Only such a professional level of putting the mask on ensures that wearers don’t breathe around the edges of the respirator. Breathing with the mask on is quite hard. Material is very thick, it can get moist and hot. The whole experience feels a bit claustrophobic. People who put them on, claim that they are wearable for around half an hour. Afterward, you need to take it off, take a deep breath, and cool off. It’s not exactly the most comfortable experience, so wearing them on an everyday basis becomes highly challenging. 

You may be wondering if it’s an idea to snag an N95 respirator online. Well, the above-said doctor Schaffner is against it. Let us leave N95 respirators to medical workers, at least they will use it in the right way. When it comes to us, ordinary people who unnecessarily stockpile respirators, we can only provide a shortage, and make those who really need them at great risk. 

What about surgical masks? You have surely seen a real plenitude of people around you wearing them. This mask is thinner and is intended for surgeons. They were invented to keep pathogens from the doctor’s nose and mouth from entering the surgical field. As you see, they do the opposite job of the one that we all wish they did. They don’t let pathogens to go outside, but we don’t want them to get inside. It’s rather common to see Asian people, for example from China or Japan, wearing surgical masks in public spaces. They perceive them as protection against pathogens and pollution. Whereas it’s true, that certain types of pollution can be withheld with the use of these masks, it’s unfortunately not the case with the viral particles. They are just not designed for it. Plus, they don’t fit tightly around the nose and cheeks in a way that they could protect us. It’s possible only with an N95 respirator. The surgical masks’ use is modestly effective. 

The situation seems different if you are sick with a cold or the flu. Some people wear masks to prevent others from their infectious organisms. This is generous when it comes to the first thought, but the efficient solution is still far ahead. If you feel sick, you should stay at home and avoid public places. This is the only proper way to behave.  

What about the part of society that has already been diagnosed with COVID-19, and their families? They should undoubtedly wear face masks if they need to get outside (they better stay home, though). It will reduce the risk of infection to people around them. The same regards health care workers and care (whether it’s at home or in a healthcare facility) of infected patients. Remember that surgical masks should be disposed of after any single-use. 

Some pets lovers had an amazing idea of protecting our lovely friends from COVID-19. The scientists’ response to it is short and unequivocal. Pets can’t transmit the virus to humans, so experts strongly advise not to panic in that matter. There was one case reported – a Pomeranian dog in Hong Kong tested “weak positive”. The dog is currently in quarantine, and it doesn’t show any symptoms. Additionally, the way it was tested is unsure.

As an alternative to masks, the best way of protection from coronavirus is to stay informed, and temporarily avoid countries where breakouts have taken place. Also, wash your hands with soap, avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, and stay away from sick people. As often as possible, disinfect objects and surfaces around you. 

CoronaVirus Viruses

What’s Your Risk of Dying of COVID-19 – Or Inadvertently Allowing The Death of Someone in Your Community?

Let’s admit it, we are deadly afraid to know some facts, although some of them must be said. Consciousness can save the masses. With this in mind, we have to face the deadly statistics of the new coronavirus. The crucial question is: What’s the risk of dying of COVID-19? What about me and the other members of my community? As on 6th March 2020, statistically, the actual risk of a young and healthy adult dying because of coronavirus is rather low. However, it doesn’t mean that there is nothing to worry about! The media across countries and heads of parliament wouldn’t be so alarmed if the issue was trivial.

What’s Your Risk of Dying of COVID-19 - Or Inadvertently Allowing The Death of Someone in Your Community?

If you are a healthy individual, but not so young anymore, the risk is somewhat higher. The worst-case scenario to catch coronavirus is when your age is advanced, and you already suffer from chronic diseases. You should be aware of the serious threat, and do everything to limit any outside contact. Funny fact, the possibility of catching and dying of the COVID-19, being a young and healthy adult, is probably below the risk of accidental death from something else. But there is a much bigger threat in this story – the risk of inadvertently catching and passing the virus along. This epidemic sets social responsibility. We have to work together and care for each other. It’s the message that the world sends us – we have to cooperate! As a result – canceling large gatherings saves lives. If not ours, then those of other people. 

Let’s get to numbers, hoping that it will give us the estimated idea of what we are talking about. A rough order-of-magnitude estimate of your risk of contracting the COVID-19 coronavirus depends on where you live, and how many cases are around you. If you take into consideration your age and pre-existing conditions, you can calculate the risk of the disease being lethal for you. The same with passing it along. So how many people around you are you saving from death by staying at home? It can be estimated as well! Mind that these are rough order-of-magnitude estimations. There are no obvious and sure answers nowadays, and the situation with COVID-19 changes every day. 

What’s my risk of catching the coronavirus? First, you need to estimate the number of people that have been infected in your region. For example, in the Seattle area, Trevor Bedford counted 570 individuals infected as of March 1, with a mean epidemic doubling time of 6.1 days. This gives us an estimate of 1000 cases on March 5. Every case is different, but this is how you count it. Now, get to know the general number of people in our region. Continuing with the same example, the greater Seattle metro area has a population of 4M. Apparently, 1 in 4000 (1000/4M) individuals in our region are likely infected with the COVID-19 coronavirus. Pretty simple, isn’t it? Also, quite comforting at this point.

But the story doesn’t finish here. The reproductive number of the virus is another issue. How many people are infected by each previous infection? The so-called R0 (the baseline infectivity without intervention) for this coronavirus is approximately 2.3, whereas with interventions (washing your hands, avoiding crowds, etc.) it can be brought below 1. Interventions gradually bring the epidemic to a halt. If in the above-mentioned society, 1 in 4000 people are infected today, but each of them infects 2 people, over the next approximately 4 days (a single viral generation), this rate is about 1 in 2000.

What about the risk of death? The Infection Fatality Rate depends on both the characteristics of the virus and how overloaded the local healthcare system is. The US healthcare system is not yet overloaded at this point. In general, if you’re a young adult with COVID-19, and the healthcare system in your country is doing well, your chance of dying is 1 in 1000. If you’re older or hold a preexisting condition (it doubles the risk for your age group), you need to measure your death rate accordingly. What about the normal risks of accidental death? How do these two compare? As for a young and healthy person who lives in Seattle, COVID-19-related death is about eight times lower than the risk of accidental death from all other possible causes, for example, a daily commute. 

CoronaVirus Viruses

Comparing The Latest Coronavirus to MERS and SARS!

Are Coronavirus Diseases Equally Deadly?

Since we already know that coronaviruses are no fun, it’s worth deepening the research. Quite a lot has been discovered recently, and scientists have never worked so hard. What has COVID-19 to do with the famous MERS and SARS, other members of the coronavirus family? Are they equally deadly? What are the similarities and differences? Let’s take a look and resolve all the doubts once for all. 

Comparing The Latest Coronavirus to MERS and SARS!

What might have primarily been overlooked, but cannot be anymore? COVID-19 has sickened more than 100,000 people till today thought-out our planet. Moreover, it killed more than 3,000 infected. The pathogen likely originated in bats and then spilled over into humans. The main outbreak took place in December in Wuhan, China. Since then, the virus is constantly spreading, by now, having reached more than 60 countries, including South Korea, Japan, Italy, Iran, and the United States. Naturally, statistics frighten us, but the truth is, we don’t deal with big numbers daily unless we work in finances. Big numbers generally frighten people, but is there anything to worry about? Let’s have a glance at the facts.

Public health is currently putting extraordinary effort into containing the epidemic. Since it’s not the first time that such a threat attacks the media, some comparison may work wonders in discovering the actual danger. The world has to battle the spread of a novel coronavirus. It pays to look at how COVID-19 compares to past epidemics. 

SARS, also known as Severe acute respiratory syndrome, was the first recent biological threat. Its outbreak occurred in November 2002, also in China. It spread to 26 countries in North America, South America, Asia, and Europe. Eventually, it was contained in July 2003. Happily, no known cases have been reported since then. The illness used to be transmitted through the person-to-person way. There were two ideas for its primary origin – bats or civet cats. The number of people infected shows that there were 8,098 cases and 774 deaths reported. The COVID-19 is structurally similar to SARS. They share about 80 percent of their genomes, as reported by Timothy Sheahan, an epidemiologist at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina. The outbreak of SARS was contained within about six months, whilst COVID-19 kicked-off just recently, therefore no one can compare these two accurately yet. 

And what about MERS? This illness, known as the Middle East respiratory syndrome, was first reported in 2012 in Saudi Arabia. It doesn’t beat the recent COVID-19 down, having infected only about 27 countries in Europe, Africa, Asia, and North America. MERS is a zoonotic virus as well, which means that it came to us from animals. The probable way, as found out by scientists, was from bats into dromedary camels, and eventually, poor humans. There have been 2,494 reported cases and 858 deaths from the virus since the first outbreak. 

SARS was lethal to around 10 percent of infected people. When it comes to MERS, approximately 35 percent of reported patients died. The new coronavirus appears to be less deadly than both of them. On March 3, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO Director-General, claimed that 3.4 percent of reported cases have died so far. What does it mean to us? Not much. Statistics are going to change as the virus spreads and infection rate evolves. The COVID-19 outbreak is only a few months old, and it’s still unfolding globally, so no general statements can be done yet. The true fatality rate is about to be discovered shortly.

Some scientific analyses show that coronavirus is surprisingly similar to the version that first emerged in Wuhan, not undergoing any significant mutations while spreading throughout the world. Usually, as viruses pass from person to person (worth noticing: throughout the whole globe) it’s not uncommon for them to mutate in order not to die out. Why is it so unnecessary this time? The above mention scientist, Timothy Sheahan, an epidemiologist at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina, explains how the process works “It’s basically Darwinian evolution, where it’s survival of the fittest. But if you already have a virus that is good at human-to-human transmission and good at replicating in a person, there’s no reason for it to get more fit”.

Comparing The Latest Coronavirus to MERS and SARS!

How To Prepare For Coronavirus And What Should I Do If I Have Symptoms?

Covid-19 is a wide-world spread illness having its origins in the Huanan seafood wholesale market in the center of Wuhan, China. This member of the coronavirus family has never been seen among humans before. Its initial source was an animal, who transmitted a virus to humans. As of 2 March, an estimated 87,000 people were affected globally. In mainland China, 56% have already recovered and 3.6% have died. After conquesting Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, Covid-19 goes further. Lately, its cases continue to be confirmed in the United States with more than 90 cases and six deaths confirmed. Health experts have known already that the virus’s transmission in the country is inevitable. It’s, therefore, important to prepare for coronavirus and be aware of what steps to follow to reduce risks of spreading out of control. Let’s review symptoms, and specialists’ advice regarding coronavirus COVID-19. 

How To Prepare For Coronavirus And What Should I Do If I Have Symptoms?
How To Prepare For Coronavirus And What Should I Do If I Have Symptoms?

Try not to panic, when online information starts to overwhelm you. They are not always coming from trustworthy sources. We already know that! COVID-19 outbreak is a serious public health concern, but the majority of infected people do not become seriously ill. Only a minimal percentage requires intensive care. prepare for coronavirus, warn your family, get acknowledged with the medical facts of major importance in case your community is affected by the virus, and… remember not to panic! 

Are there any other basic facts to know about COVID-19 that will let us prepare for coronavirus? Antibiotics won’t help. Not because it’s a new virus, but just because it’s a virus. In such cases, antibiotics are never prescribed. Neither the antiviral drugs we already have will work. The ones we have, are not prepared to fight with the new virus. So, what will help, instead? All that we have is our immune system and recovery depends on its strength. Many lethal cases were in very poor health already. 

The virus is transmitted from one person to another so in order not to be infected, it’s smart to keep away from infected people. The funny part is that you never know if someone is affected, because COVID-19 is, in many cases, asymptomatic. This part of the story forces whole nations, like Italy, to order the national quarantine! But if symptoms occur, which are they? Coronavirus can cause coughs, fever and breathing difficulties. These are the most common signs of the illness. It can cause pneumonia, and, in very severe cases, organ failure and death. 

What to do if you already have a cough or other symptoms? If you suspect that your “flu” can be coronavirus-related because you’ve recently traveled or you had contact with ill people, don’t go to the hospital. That will expose others and do much more harm! Call an emergency and make them come to your house. This way, you will contribute to social safety.  

How to prepare for coronavirus if there is no antidote? Well, there is. You and your family can act in a way that will prevent you from falling sick! By following some basic steps, you’ll minimize its powers of affecting you.  

Boring, as it is: just wash your hands! Every time you come back from the outside or after you meet people. Not only wet your hands with clean running water but get yourself a disinfectant liquid, alcohol-based hand sanitizers (at least 60 percent alcohol), and use it as often as needed. Don’t avoid working hard on the backs of your hands, between your fingers or under your nails. Scrub it for at least 20 seconds! Seriously, it may sound like nothing, but washing your hands will help you to prevent catching coronavirus. Afterward, dry your hands with a clean towel or let them air dry. Remember to avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

If someone around you is showing flu- or cold-like symptoms, avoid them like fire (stay at least six feet away)! The virus seems to spread through droplets in the air from a cough or sneeze, so keeping yourself away from such situations will do you good. If you are sneezing or coughing, direct it into your elbow. In general, what we are doing here is trying to contain all germs in one place. Practice the famous “Ebola handshake,” to prepare for coronavirus. What is it? It consists of greeting others with elbow bumps. It’s a fun game!

Moreover, there is a fashionista trend to wear a mask. Again, if you are infected, avoid affecting others. Specialists say that face masks don’t do much to protect you, though. Most surgical masks are too loose to prevent inhalation of the virus, and they are not recommended if you’re healthy (unless you are a health care worker).

How To Prepare For Coronavirus And What Should I Do If I Have Symptoms?