The repeating emergence: Coronavirus
Omer Fayshal Pavel
At the end of the year 2019 World Health Organization (WHO) was recorded random cases of pneumonia in Wuhan City of China. Though the reason of this severe pneumonia was unknown but the fact came to light on 7th January’2020, when the authority of china identified a new type of novel virus temporarily named ‘2019-nCoV’. This novel virus includes in the type of coronavirus, which exists in the class of virus causing common cold and may result in Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) or Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).
From the very beginning of 21th century human coronavirus (HCoVs) were inconsequential as a pathogen but in 2003 this took the attention when the outbreak of SARS-CoV infected more than 8000 people and among them 10% died in southern China.
In September, 2012 another type of coronavirus called MERS-CoV emerged and caused 52 deaths in Saudi Arabia. In 2015 the same virus made outbreak in South Korea as well. So in summary until 2019 this virus infected almost 10000 persons and more than 1600 death cases documented with the average mortality rate of 35%. In 2017, WHO enlisted SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV in the priority pathogen list. The name coronavirus came from a Latin word ‘corona’, means crown. Under the electronic microscopic the virus is reminiscent of a solar corona.
Now if we look at the biological side of the virus, first the word comes that it is a RNA virus. Normally, virus can be divided into two classes where one is called DNA-Virus, which contains all genetic codes in the DNA on the other hand another type of the virus encrypt all the genetic materials in their RNA, thus called RNA-Virus. Till now there are seven types of coronavirus identified, but the most emerging are three of them. This virus has zoonotic transmission and able to spread by normal domestic animals, fishes or some other creatures like bats or snakes.
Very common symptoms of the infection are fever, cough, dyspnea (shortness of breath) and in very few cases watery diarrhea is recorded. In more severe cases, it can lead to pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), kidney failure and even death. The incubation period of the coronavirus remains unknown. However, some sources like to say it could be between 10 to 14 days.
Unfortunately till now there is no available vaccine for the virus or curative agent, thus it’s better to take preventive step to get rid of it. Personal hygiene and carefulness in regular life is the most preventive way to avoid the infection. According to the Centers for disease control and prevention (CDC) three recommendations were made to prevent the viral infection. Firstly, washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, then avoiding touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands and importantly avoiding close contact with people who are infected or suspect of infection. And additionally use medical mask when you are in vulnerable area. If you get sick you should be careful of some issues to prevent spreading the virus to the community. These are staying home while you are sick, avoiding close contact with others, covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and mandatorily clean or disinfect objects and surfaces that surround you. These things seem very easy to do thus often we get careless of these issues but these are very essential to save the nearby person.
There is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for 2019-nCoV infection. People infected with 2019-nCoV should receive supportive care to get relieve from symptoms. And even for severe cases, treatment should include care to support vital organ functions.
As the virus spreads in two ways, human-human transmission and animal-human transmission thus it makes vicious threats to the neighboring countries of origin. Now the point to consider is that geographically China shares 4000 miles of contact border with five South Asian countries including Nepal, Pakistan, Bhutan, India and Afghanistan. And among these one of the countries has already confirmed the case of coronavirus. Very recently Singapore and Malaysia both report fourth confirmed cases of it and another confirmed infection was found in Sri-Lanka. India and Pakistan also have suspected victims of the novel virus. However, in Bangladesh till now there is no confirmed case of coronavirus, but are some suspects of it.
Very recently global health emergency declared by WHO due to spreading of coronavirus in several countries. If we look back since 2005 we have five more global emergencies – swine flu in 2009; polio in 2014; Ebola in 2014; Zika in 2016 and Ebola again in 2019. And now in 2020 a novel virus is also added in the list.
After summing-up of all information, it indicates some questions those can be the burning issues in very near future. It really matters what are the major sources of the newly mutated virus? Why the emergences of RNA viruses are more rapid and causing the usability of global health security instead of DNA one? Is it only natural or we are also involved in the influence of the mutation of previous viruses either intentionally or unintentionally? Whatever, the most important question arises whether human kind is going to face a massive threat of viral infection in nearest future? It may take far way to go for the answer but till there is a hope and scientists are trying to find the preventive method or the cure for the upcoming meticulous virus. So, let’s see are we welcoming a health future or a future with extreme health vulnerability?
The writes has completed masters in Clinical Pharmacy and Molecular Pharmacology from the East West University.