Important Note: all information regarding the Coronavirus is through February 25, this article will not contain any details made public afterwards.
Throughout history, there have been a number of notable diseases. Leprosy, The Black Death, Cholera, and Influenza are just a few plagues humanity had to overcome. Each disease has its own degree of impact. The Black Death took out about 60% of medieval Europe, while the Ebola in 2014-16 killed around 11,000 people. Through these outbreaks, the science community makes new discoveries and increases knowledge on health and the human body. Nevertheless, while a disease runs its course, fear can easily set in. For the past few months, COVID-19, commonly called the Coronavirus, has shut down parts of society while keeping others on edge. The disease has infected countless individuals, while scientists are globally working on a cure.
It is crucial to start with the basics and beginnings of a hot topic so one does not get confused. Coronavirus is not a new disease; in fact, it comes in multiple strains that are specific by animal. There are a few different human strains of the virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control, “Most people get infected with one or more of these viruses at some point in their lives” (CDC). However, the current outbreak is not the typical human form. What plagues the world right now is the COVID-19 strain, which stands for CoronaVirus Disease 2019. It was officially labeled by the World Health Organization (WHO) to provide many clarifications. While the disease started in China’s Wuhan province within a food market, it is not the Chinese virus (Dr. Mike). As of February 24, there are twenty nine other countries with reported cases, with Kuwait most recently joining the list (Situation Report).
The COVID-19 name also omits any connection to animals. This specific virus did originate from another animal, but the details are not known. Additionally, this is a human disease now, so tying an animal to the name would be irrelevant. Scientists are trying to identify the exact origins, as it would greatly benefit the process of cure research. Each species carries its own number of strains. Bats alone have over 500 unique strains of Coronavirus (wbur). Each strain, of any disease, has its own structure, pattern of genes, and antidote. This is why the common cold has no cure, as there are over 200 strains, each with its own unique design. If the exact animal origins of the Coronavirus can be traced, then scientists can narrow down the number of strains they need to investigate, which would make cure development much faster.
Looking at a disease’s severity, along with cure efforts, is very important. As of 1 PM, February 24th, MarketWatch reports 79,407 infected individuals and 2,622 deaths. Areas with a higher number of infected patients are China, Iran, and Italy. While this is disturbing information, the general world’s population should not start panicking. The lethality, or the number of infected who reach critical condition or die, is very low at 3%. It is sad to know people are dying, but a hopeful note is that this disease is not as severe as others like Ebola, which has a 50% lethality rate. About 81% of patients as of February 18, are in a mild condition (Dr. Mike). This means they are mostly functional, have no severe pain, and do not have a bacterial infection. This is a good indicator while a cure is being developed. As of now, there are about 80 treatment drugs in trial. Favilavir recently became the first drug to receive Chinese government approval to start testing on patients. Other companies are still conducting research and hoping to release products soon (Pharmaceutical Technology). According to the WHO, a vaccine, which would prevent people from getting infected, is in the works, and should be completed in about twelve to eighteen months. The current situation is unsettling, but it is not yet catastrophic and knowledge about Coronavirus will only increase every day.
As COVID-19 spreads quickly, it is impacting more than just health and science. There are conspiracies this disease is bioterrorism, but there is no evidence to back this up. On a more realistic level, panic is causing stock markets to fall and there is early discussion to cancel the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. This virus presents an unpleasant situation to the world. However, one should only look at relevant facts, and remember to keep up healthy practices such as hand washing and avoid coughing or sneezing into the open air. Additionally, Christians can find assurance in Genesis 8:21. After the great flood, Noah built an altar to glorify God. In return, God made a covenant: “the Lord said to Himself, ‘I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done.’” We may immediately think of natural disasters when reading this passage, but it also applies to diseases. We do not know God’s plan exactly, but we can find hope He will not allow a virus to destroy the world.
Wbur – wbur.org/hereandnow/2020/02/13/new-coronavirus-origins-deaths
WHO – who.int/news-room/detail/06-02-2020-who-to-accelerate-research-and-innovation-for-new-coronavirus
CDC – cdc.gov/coronavirus/general-information.html
Dr. Mike – www.youtube.com/watch?v=RSiW6ZvPqeg
WHO situation report – who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/situation-reports/20200224-sitrep-35-covid-19.pdf
MarketWatch – marketwatch.com/story/coronavirus-update-79339-cases-2169-deaths-clusters-emerge-in-iran-and-italy-2020-02-24?mod=health-care
Pharmaceutical Technology – pharmaceutical-technology.com/news/china-approves-favilavir-covid-19/