Corona, Covid-19, SARS-CoV-2

Do not read this page as any authoritative essay. I do not know even about the basic Biology. Even if you are a medical practitioner, you may find some useful information!

Corona-viruses are a family of viruses that range from the common cold to MERS. COVID-19 is the name given by WHO to the disease that is caused by a novel (new) coronavirus. This novel coronavirus (now called SARS-CoV-2) is mainly transmitted through droplets generated when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or exhales. These droplets float in the air for for some time, and then fall on floors, tabletops or surfaces. An infected person may transfer viruses to objects (like knobs, utensils) and other surfaces s/he touches if his/her hand has traces of saliva, nasal discharge, etc.

One can get infected by breathing in the virus if s/he is near to someone who either has COVID-19 or is a carrier of this virus. One can also get infected by touching a contaminated object or surface (where the droplets containing viruses have landed) and then touching his/her eyes, nose or mouth. This virus can live on surfaces like plastic and metal for at least 2 days. So keep cleaning and disinfecting all counters, handles, knobs, and other surfaces others might have touched.

Since the beginning of this millennium, the world has seen outbreaks like SARS, MERS, Bird Flu, Swine Flu, Zika, Ebola, etc.

There may be many reasons for these outbreaks:

  • The pathogens causing these outbreaks are novel and deadly!
  • Lack of effective vaccines and medicines!
  • The world is well connected so the chances of (quick) spread is greater.
  • May be lifestyle and immunity is now an issue?

Because of better communication no such information escapes our attention!

In the recent past, there were outbreaks of Zika, resurgent Ebola, etc. I used to think India being not so resourceful and careful will suffer if a deadly virus spread. Luckily, India avoided major outbreaks of these diseases. So I wasn't alarmed when news from Wuhan started appearing!

Since March 2020, we understood that COVID-19 is a very dangerous pandemic. I never agreed with people who said it is going to be over by the month of June 2020.

Whether this novel Coronavirus is mutating faster than ordinary FLU viruses? By the end of the first week of April 2020, there were 8 identified strains of this coronavirus. Because of favorable conditions (mainly temperature) generally we have more FLU cases in winter. I think, from the month of October 2020, i.e. start of the winter season, we may see spread of some strain of the SARS-CoV-2 :-(. Whether this virus is about to stay for years like FLU? I was skeptical with projections of some US university that by February 2021, India may have more than 200,000 new patients daily. I thought that by that time metros in India may have well passed their peaks. That computer model may prove to be correct.

Some strain of this novel Corona Virus may be more dangerous than other strains of it!

Whether we will have a vaccine that will work against all the mutations of the SARS-CoV-2? Whether we will have to keep finding newer vaccines for newer strains?

We all may personally (not just financially) get the brunt of this virus in time to come.

To console someone who has recently tested positive for COVID-19, we can say to him/her: It is likely that most of us are going to get infected sooner or later like the common cold. So fight it out.

In April, I read a news regarding some COVID-19 survivors in Wuhan again turning positive. Whether it is because of some faulty testing kits? Whether immunity is specific to a strain only?

Now the authorities in India are saying that most of those who tested positive for COVID-19 are asymptomatic. What percentage of them will become patients of COVID-19 (i.e. show symptoms) and what percentage of them will become carriers?

Now and then we hear about trials of various vaccines, drugs and treatment methods. The Ebola drug called Remdesivir, Flu drug called Favipiravir, Tocilizumab (very costly) and Dexamethasone (very cheap) are currently used in various parts of the World. HCQ and Lopinavir/Ritonavir combination were also used. Few state governments have started Plasma Banks. Is Plasma Therapy effective in lots of cases? ICMR with a private lab is in overdrive mode to come up with a COVID-19 vaccine! Whether Russia's Sputnik-V an effective vaccine?

Governments should start funding the production of those vaccines that have been gone through successful trials in good hope that those vaccines get approvals. Even if out of three vaccines currently ahead in human trials one gets approved, that company behind that vaccine won't be able to fulfill demands quickly. So for governments, it may be a good strategy.

What to do?

Low Temperature helps viruses live longer on surfaces (outside hosts) and low humidity decreases our immune response against viruses. So do not sleep in temperature below 25 degree Celsius and do not use dehumidifying functions of Air Conditioners. If possible do not use ACs at all.

Whether the patients in ICUs should have a small humidifier and a heater near their bed to compensate for cooler temperature around them?

If you have been inhaling steam in the past to fight the common cold, you may do that if you feel similar symptoms. If you have never inhaled steam it is better to take medical advice or start with inhaling vapors of warm water. The hot steam from boiling water may be harmful to your lungs. Also, it is not easy to handle boiling water. As humidity helps so vapors of warm water may help some.

Masks are better than simple cloths like handkerchiefs, scarf etc. Because if side of the cloth gets reversed it will undo the purpose. As washing hands with soap does the purpose of removing the protective lipid layer of the virus (and killing them), we should put washable masks in water containing detergent after using and before washing it. Sunlight has rays like ultraviolet, which are harmful to viruses. If chances of air transmission in your area can be considered rare, then it is better to dry masks and your cloths in sunlight.

If your mask breaths with you it has a perfect fit.

Not only masks but covered (safety) spectacles should also be used while in public / crowded places. Apparently the pathogens can sometimes enter our body through eyes (nasolacrimal duct) also.

Don't remain in a crowd and leave the crowded places as soon as possible to avoid infection. Two meter distance is compulsory to maintain.

There is no drug, vaccine or medicine acting directly on this virus. One has to improve immunity. Immunity can be increased by doing exercises (how easy it is to preach) and taking supplements like Vitamin C. It also helps in maintaining positive thinking. Sleeping for about 8 hours is mandatory.

If you have to go to work in the early morning, you may avoid taking bath before going out. It may be better to bathe after coming home than to bathe before going out. Do not bathe frequently as good bacteria help your skin.

It's better to wash our newly bought food stock in salt water before cooking/using them. Use some cheap unbranded salt. Put lots of salt in a tub full of water, first wash those vegetables (like coriander leaves) and fruits (like grape) that are consumed without peeling. In the end wash roots which contains soil traces. Instead of ordinary salt some people use baking soda.

If anything is delivered to your home, ask the person who brought it to put the item in a corner. If it is not urgent please do not touch or open it for a day or two. If it is urgent spray some diluted bleach (sodium hypochlorite), washing soda (sodium carbonate) or alcohol based sanitizer on to it before opening the packaging. Sanitize your hand after handling the item.

What to do with Cash?

If you are running a shop where cash cannot be avoided, keep two cash boxes, mark them as 'Even' and 'Odd'. Suppose you start this practice from an even date, put your cash from cash-box in the box marked 'odd'. Now on this day (with even date), ask your customers to put cash they give in the box marked 'Even', and give them the change from the box marked 'Odd'. Next day (odd date) when you open your counter, transfer the remaining cash from the box marked 'Odd' to the box marked 'Even'. Now accept the cash in the box 'Odd' and give change from the box 'Even'.
If you are out shopping, take a pouch or small carry-bag with you. Ask the shopkeeper to put change s/he returns in that pouch. The next day you can use that change.

Regularly Updated; Initially Published: 13 Apr 2020;

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Is COVID-19 going to eliminate sizable (say 0.5%) population worldwide in 2-3 years? I do not wish to become a negative person? Whether we will have timely and effective vaccination and treatment from all the present as well as future strains of SARS-CoV-2? Time will tell.