The latest cry from nature has been on our skin for quite some time. A new virus and sooo much more deadly than the common flu virus. “[…] a death rate ten times higher than that of the flu.” writes the department head for knowledge at SZ, Mr. Illinger. You can already read a certain amount of skepticism from this introduction, but more on that later.
In principle, the current coronavirus pandemic is nothing new, as we are confronted with millions of infections of various viruses every winter, which usually only cause harmless respiratory infections, a so-called cold. Let’s call them by name:
So we are constantly running pandemics (not to mention the real flu or influenza), only for some ominous reason does it go down regularly. Well, I don’t want to cause panic with this knowledge, I just want to reveal the paradox of the whole. Back to the viruses.
What can make some viruses so dangerous is their versatility. This is due to the nature of these interesting particles (yes, for me viruses are not living beings. Why, please read here .), Especially RNA viruses (like the said corona viruses), do nothing other than change in different frequencies. More precisely: the entirety of their genes, the so-called genome, is randomly changed in its sequence, so the virus mutates and new variants of this one virus emerge. Quite a more dangerous variant than its predecessor.
Now the nervousness continues to increase every day because a virus that has recently appeared in China with the melodic name SARS-CoV-2 (short for Severe Acute Respitory Syndrome-Coronavirus-2) has been doing mischief since December last year. The upper respiratory disease caused by this infection was named COVID-19, which stands for Corona virus disease 2019. The reason for this naming is that they no longer wanted to use a territory designation, as was the case at the MERS (Middle East Respitory Syndrome) outbreak in 2012, in order to prevent discrimination and stigmatization of individual population groups. Unfortunately, this also went a bit wrong (which in turn is in the nature of humans), because I myself had to hear from my Asian friends about some discrimination. Of the bad riots in onenot to mention Ukrainian village .
So it seems to me that the number of articles in the media increases with each new infected person and that this large number of articles unfortunately leads to often careless reactions. Like in the said Ukrainian village.
Although most mainstream newspapers report the virus in a matter-of-fact and calm manner, our “social media” and your ability to multiply intellectual thin whistle destroy everything again. There is my favorite NYT article
unfortunately no chance. This flood of misinformation and the sheer amount of correct information literally lead to an infodemic , a term introduced by the WHO. Analogous to a pandemic, information and misinformation are being disseminated at an unprecedented speed all over the world and nothing else but panic, stir up racism or even lead to social unrest and insurrection (see Arab Spring ).
So why am I still writing the probably 5,000,000th article about this virus? Because I think that this infodemic must be stopped. I also get more and more calls from worried friends and the first hamster purchases in ALDIs in my region have already taken place. Slowly but surely, there will be more panic, with a very bad outcome for all of us. And that shouldn’t be.
Therefore, with this article it is my goal to summarize the quintessence of the thousands of mainstream and specialist articles “briefly” and concisely, in order to achieve one thing above all: to help prevent an absolutely unnecessary panic.
Important: I have researched for weeks to the best of my knowledge and belief and compiled facts.
I have not leased the truth and I also rely on the information that can be found in this way. However, I was able to spice this up with my own specialist knowledge as an infection biologist and the specialist knowledge of some colleagues and the available specialist literature, but I do not accept any liability for any behavior derived from this article!
Important information is supported by sources, further facts can be browsed and known. Therefore, not assigned links.
So let’s get started:
SARS-CoV-2? What’s that?
Everyone knows the name at the moment, but it looks something like this. A relatively rounded, very small particle with a diameter of 60 – 140 nanometers. As a reminder: a nanometer is a billionth of a meter! If you want to know more about biology, you can talk shop with me or just google or ask Wikipedia .
For those who find schemes stupid, here are a few real life shots.
Where does this virus come from?
The fact is: it is a zoonosis, an infectious disease that has spread from animals to humans and has its origins in a market in Wuhan, China. Of course, this market has now been closed.
Of course, the search for origin is in full swing and there has been and is a lot of research and speculation. In principle, pretty much everything was the origin: bats, armadillos, chickens, pigs, snakes and even a laboratory in Wuhan. At the moment the bat seems to be leading again.
How many people have it been hit?
So we have a mortality rate of 3.5% for China, i.e. 3.5% of all infected people die there. Whereas only 1.4% of those infected die in other countries. An interesting fact that needs to be researched.
In comparison, the seasonal flu, also called influenza 2 :
182,000 infected and 954 dead, which means a mortality rate of 0.5%. In the United States, an estimated 3 – 11% of the total population contract influenza! 3rd
SARS-CoV-2 also performs much worse than its famous cousins SARS and MERS.
The number of unreported cases of people infected with SARS-CoV-2 is very likely very much higher, which in turn would push the mortality rate down, but you can see from the reported numbers that this virus does not take on such a serious clinical course outside of China and only appears to be about twice as dangerous as the influenza virus with all its subtypes. Hence my skepticism about the newspaper article mentioned at the beginning.
Which age group did the victims belong to?
Typical for every infectious disease: it often affects immunosuppressed people, i.e. people with impaired immune systems or unfortunately God’s grannies and grandpas (since of course also immunosuppressed). And that’s no different with the SARS-CoV-2. It is actually the case that children from 0-9 years seem somehow immune. Infections are possible, but they are always mild or not noticeable. So we don’t have to worry about our children.
How contagious is the virus?
Here’s a cool graphic created by epidemiologists:
What you see here is easy to explain:
The measles are highly contagious, a patient or carrier of the virus (the yellow dot in the middle) infects 12-18 healthy people. Whereas our SARS-CoV-2 infects about 2-3 people. The whole thing then happens through the air, through a so-called droplet infection. I think the name speaks for itself.
PS: unfortunately the creator of this graphic made a mistake and the virus is called COVID-19, which is the name of the disease. Shit happens. Still cool graphics.
How long does the virus survive outdoors, i.e. on surfaces?
Of course, this has already been investigated, but on related viruses, namely the triggers of SARS and MERS. The bottom line of a very interesting article published in The Journal of Hospital Infection (by the way, the researchers come from Bochum and Greifswald) is as follows:
“Human coronaviruses can remain infectious on inanimate surfaces at room temperature for up to 9 days. At a temperature of 30 ° C [86 ° F] or more, the duration of persistence is shorter. Veterinary coronaviruses have been shown to persist even longer for 28 d [ays]. ”
So up to 9 days at room temperature on surfaces such as tables and Co.
Is there already a treatment or medication?
Not yet, but there are some promising clinical trials underway, including a combination of two well-known drugs . Also, a lot of companies from the field of diagnostics (including my beloved employer!) Are working on rapid tests, as well as a few pharmaceutical companies on a vaccination, which could be on the market in about a year.
And finally, the most important thing: how do you prevent infection? Do masks help?
Very easy (and actually always applies!)
1. Wash your hands
2. Less physical contact (especially with sick people)
3. Correct sneezing and coughing. And this is how it works: either cough / sneeze in the crook of your arm or in a handkerchief and dispose of it immediately. Coughing or sneezing in your hand is just absurd and an ideal transmission path.
4. Avoid crowds (if possible)
5. Masks help, but only so-called FFP3 masks .
Anyone who has read all of this and now adds up 1 and 1 should notice two things:
First, based on the facts, panic is absolutely NOT necessary and / or
Secondly, there should actually be a constant panic with all the viruses and diseases that haunt us every year. Find the bug.
So, I hope that I could shed some light on this article. If not: let’s discuss.
Sources (all others linked in the text):