Coronavirus Pandemic

Coronavirus Facts the Experts still Don’t Know

Despite substantial work and investment worldwide, Covid-19 pandemic-causing remains unknown for most. How much are we really aware of the novel coronavirus facts, the lethal pandemic that has spread all over the world and killed over 137,000 people?

As it turns out, while groundbreaking medical science has made big strides in curing infectious diseases, some fundamental questions remain unanswered about the nature and course of transmission in SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the coronavirus. For instance, Can a sneeze from an infected person standing a few feet away transmit you the virus?

A Query of Viral Proportions

Siddhartha Mukherjee – science journalist – wrote in the New Yorker earlier this month, “So far, in the early phases of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have been measuring the spread of the virus across people. As the pace of the pandemic escalates, we also need to start measuring the virus within people.”

Over the last few weeks, virologists have been debating whether high Coronavirus exposure has contributed to serious symptoms and increasing death chances.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) coronavirus disease primarily spreads through a viral load – tiny droplets of saliva from the nose when somebody infected sneezes or coughs. Thus, it is generally recommended that people wear face masks and gloves and maintain a minimum distance of six feet to prevent infection.

Sarah L Caddy – a clinical research fellow in viral immunology at University of Cambridge – said , ““Viruses are tiny particles that must get into our cells in order to replicate, so the logic is that the more starting virus particles there are, the more cells will be infected.”

But, how much is more? Scientists are focusing on the infectious dosage and viral cache of the virus to find a response.

COVID-19 facts

Willem Van Schaik – professor of microbiology and infection at University of Birmingham – unfolded, “The infectious dose is the amount of virus, the viral particles, that somebody breathes in and then causes disease, while the viral load is the amount of virus that is present at a specific body site, for example the throat or the lungs at any specific time.”

Scientists are so far unaware of how many particles can cause the infection. But because it has spread like wildfire, to make you ill, the exposure needs to be relatively small. Likewise, it is uncertain whether a higher viral load, or more infection, will translate into more serious symptoms.

At China’s Guangzhou, a study on 94 patients revealed that there was no distinction between those who experienced extreme symptoms and those who did not. Yet another study found an association between the two.

Schaik said, “Typically speaking, we agree that higher levels of a pathogen associate with more serious symptoms but it is becoming increasingly apparent that in Covid-19 the patient’s immune responses often play a role in the severity of the disease.”

Seeking answers to such confusing questions will significantly impact healthcare workers’ protection, who are more likely to be exposed to the virus in ICUs.

Schaik said it is not easy to figure out how much of a pathogen’s infectious dose such as the coronavirus is required to make you sick due to laboratory testing limitations.

“Ideally what you would want to do is to systematically infect humans with defined doses of the virus to determine how much virus is needed to cause disease. In addition, you could even determine whether a higher infectious dose leads to more severe disease,” he added. “However, this is clearly an unethical experiment as those infected are at risk of dying from the disease.”

Why Do Less Pakistanis Get Infected?

Coronavirus facts

The Covid-19 spread and the subsequent deaths in the Indian subcontinent have been much lower compared with the United States, Italy or Spain. There may be a few explanations for this-the most prominent being the disparity in the number of coronavirus experiments being carried out.

Pakistan, which has a population of 210 million people, had carried out about 54,706 tests, according to a recent count by Anadolu Agency. This amounts to approximately 248 tests per million people.

Italy, with a population of 60 million, had carried out more than 850,000 studies, which amounts to 14,114 per million.

Pakistan does have a much younger population despite being heavily populated. Observers claim that because older people are more vulnerable to coronavirus, the age factor may have kept the death toll so low.

But another hypothesis being tested now is that this sharp difference may result from the BCG vaccine, which was developed to combat tuberculosis more than a hundred years ago.

The vaccine for Bacillus Calmette-Guerin is mandatory in Pakistan, where TB remains a significant health-care problem killing about 70,000 people annually. Scientists are now performing studies and pondering over coronavirus facts to determine whether BCG will strengthen the immune system, in addition to the bacterium that causes TB, to fight coronavirus.

Schaik said controlled studies were being conducted among health care workers in the Netherlands and Australia to develop a relationship and this will take time to see if BCG is really having a positive short-term impact.

“I want to stress that it is also possible that this immune system priming may actually predispose individuals to a worse Covid-19 outcome, so I would not want anyone to quickly get BCG vaccinations now in the hope that it will protect them!” he added further.

Wishing the Best Summer

One hope some researchers have is that coronavirus transmission can slow as the temperature rises in summer. In winters people catch the flu more frequently because the virus thrives in cold conditions. And so some analysts are hoping its spread can be shortened in the coming months.

But again, everybody can witness the differences of opinions and finding here. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) found that most of the cases occurred in areas with comparatively low temperature and humidity.

Another Harvard University research found that the dry environment had no significant impact on the rate of transmission. The emphasis was on data from China, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand regarding weather and coronavirus transmission. Novel coronavirus facts are expected as time moves on.

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