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COVID-19 – What the Hell Is It?

In COVID-19, Epidemic, Social Distancing, World Health on March 21, 2020 at 1:43 pm

COVID-19

COVID-19 is a betacoronavirus and the scientific name for it is SARS-CoV-2. There are many coronaviruses, each of them slightly different. All coronaviruses are animal viruses that have made the leap to humans. COVID-19 was just a bat virus. Meaning that until December 2019, only bats could pass this virus around amongst themselves. That’s a proven fact.
The virus had to mutate in order to make the leap from bat to human.

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COVID-19 is highly contagious and spreads quickly and easily. In less than three short months of its existence, COVID-19 has spread to 160 countries. Because it is so new, no one knows for sure all the ways it can spread. As more and more people contract this virus and more and more people recover or die, scientists have been gathering information just as quickly.

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COVID-19 is a virus and the symptoms sound pretty ordinary. Fever and a cough. Maybe a headache or a sore throat. Here’s the kicker, it’s a high fever that can come on suddenly and go away the next and then come back a few times. The cough? Well, it’s a dry cough. OK. Doesn’t sound too bad and for some its not. That’s the extent of it. For others that fever is crazy and the cough is triggered by bi-lateral fibrosis in the lungs of up to 45%. That means the tissue of your lungs gets really stiff and that makes it really hard to breathe.

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When the human immune system detects a virus, it makes a battle plan, arms itself and starts to fight back. Because this was a bat virus, the human immune system has no experience fighting it off and doesn’t quite know what to do. It literally freaks out. Sometimes, it takes a scorched earth approach, throwing every weapon it has at this thing. When that happens, the immune system fills the lungs with fluid to try to expel the virus. That’s called a cytokine storm. Really tough to get oxygen into lungs that are rock hard and filled with fluid. The lungs already have trouble expanding and contracting and on top of that, fluid has taken up space in those lungs. Where will the oxygen even go? This is how people die from COVID-19.

cytokine storm

Some scientists say it has since mutated at least once more to become airborne. Other scientists are already thinking there may have been a third mutation and that there are possibly already 2 strains going around. One of them may even be more deadly. No one really knows yet. Scientists have found 2 strains that simultaneously infected a single patient in Iceland.

After many guesses, experiments and tests from January until March, it was thought that the virus lived on most surfaces for a matter of hours. On steel and other hard surfaces, it could live for several days. After having the opportunity to test the Diamond Princess Cruise Ship, scientists have found that the virus can still be found on surfaces after 17 days.

The Diamond Princess is cruise ship that experienced an outbreak of 712 cases of coronavirus. After moving passengers to hospital, the ship remained docked in Japan. It presented a unique opportunity to gather information about COVID-19 because it was an outbreak in an enclosed area.

No one really knows what the death toll will be or how many people will get it because this virus is so brand new to us. The current problem across the world seems to be a shortage of test kits, surgical masks and gloves.  This is a result of factories having been closed for months and many borders being closed. China used a great deal of masks and gloves during their months-long lockdown.  More than 50% of surgical masks are made in China. Factories, they say are re-opening now, but it takes about 33 days to get a shipment out of a factory in China that is in normal production. From there, it is a 2-4 week sea voyage and then customs clearance. Once the shipment arrives in the country, trains and trucks have to disperse the products to distribution centres and hosptials.

Depending on what reports you read, some say it’s no big deal and others say it is. I choose to believe Dr. Gabriel Leung, the world’s leading expert on coronaviruses. He is the doctor who led the fight against SARS. He estimates that 60% of the world’s population will get this virus and even if the death rate turns out to be 1% (which it isn’t), we will have about 45 million deaths to look forward to.

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