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    Dear Reader:

    What I intend to do here is understand better what is happening. It helps me understand when I type information I read, re-arrange it, figure it out. There is a lot of information out there, and brilliant scientists working on it day and night, I imagine. And yet, there are some basics that I don’t understand, and so, I will be trying to understand here (in way more than a single post, it will be ongoing and will take days or longer). I have some background in science, but not much, so I will not be trying to understand the scientific intricacies and complexities, but just the basics. One challenge will be to not drown in excessive information, but illuminate the basics.

    You are welcome to read or not to read the following. If you feel overly distressed reading, please stop reading at any time you choose. The idea behind this thread is to help me understand better and to  help others with the same. If you choose to read this, you are welcome to add your thoughts (and feelings) anytime.

    *All the quoted information in my posts here are is Wikipedia’s entries on Coronaviruses, common cold, influenza and on topics later to be stated (I will italicize the topics), and if I use other resources, I will state what they are.

    Coronaviruses were first discovered in the late 1960s. The earliest ones discovered were an infectious bronchitis virus in chickens and two in human patients with the common cold… “Coronaviruses are a group of related viruses that cause diseases in mammals and birds. In humans, coronaviruses cause respiratory tract infections that can be mild, such as some cases of the common cold.. and others that can be lethal, such as SARS, MERS, and COVID-19… There are yet to be vaccines or antiviral drugs to prevent or treat human coronavirus infections”.

    SARS is “Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome .. a viral respiratory disease.. Between November 2002 and July 2003, an outbreak of SARS in Southern China caused an eventual 8,098 cases, resulting in 774 deaths reported in 17 countries (9.6% fatality rate), with the majority of cases in mainland China and Hong Kong.. No cases of SARS have been reported worldwide since 2004… There is no vaccine for SARS.. As SARS is a viral disease, antibiotics do not have direct effect, but may be used against bacterial secondary infection. Treatment of SARS is mainly supported with antipyretics, supplemental oxygen and mechanical ventilation as needed. Antiviral medications are used as well as high doses of steroids to reduce swelling in the lungs. People with SARS must be isolated”.

    MERS is “Middle East Respiratory Syndrome.. a viral respiratory infection.. Symptoms range from mild to severe… Mortality is about one-third of diagnosed cases… Its spread is uncommon outside of hospitals. Thus, its risk to the global population is currently deemed to be fairly low.. As of 2020 there is no specific vaccine or treatment for the disease.. Just under 2000 cases have been reported as of 4 April 2017… The first identified case occurred in 2012 in Saudi Arabia and most cases have occurred in the Arabian Peninsula… A strain of MERS-CoV.. found in the first infected person in London in 2012.. A large outbreak occurred in South Korea in 2015. A further outbreak of MERS was reported in 2018, affecting Saudi Arabia and other countries (including South Korea)..but from the years 2015- 18, the number of infected in Saudi Arabia in 2018 was the lowest”.

    Regarding the common cold: “a viral infectious disease of the upper respiratory tract.. people usually recover in seven to ten days, but some symptoms may last up to three weeks. Occasionally those with other health problems may develop pneumonia… There is no vaccine for the common cold. The primary methods of prevention are handwashing; not touching the eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands, and staying away from sick people.. There is no cure, but the symptoms can be treated… The common cold is the most frequent infectious disease in humans. The average adult gets two to three colds a year, while the average child may get six to eight. Infections occur more commonly during the winter. These infections existed throughout human history… The most commonly implicated virus is a rhinovirus (30-80%), a type of picornavirus with 99 known serotypes. Other commonly implicated viruses include the human coronavirus (15%), influenza viruses (10-15%), Adenoviruses, human respiratory syncytial virus, enteroviruses.. Frequently more than one virus is present. In total, more than 200 viral types are associated with colds”

    Influenza: “commonly known as ‘the flu’, is an infectious disease caused by an influenza virus. Symptoms can be mild to severe. .. These symptoms typically begin two days after exposure to the virus and most last less than a week. The cough, however, may last for more than two weeks… Complications of influenza may include viral pneumonia, secondary bacterial pneumonia, sinus infections, and worsening of previous health problems such as asthma or heart failure… Three of the four types of influenza viruses affect humans: Type A, Type B, and type C. Type D has not been known to infect humans, but is believed to have potential to do so. Usually the virus is spread through the air from coughs or sneezes… It can spread by touching surfaces contaminated by the virus and then touching the eyes, nose, or mouth… Yearly vaccinations against influenza are recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) for those at high risk, and by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for those six months of age and older. The vaccine is usually effective against three or four types of influenza. It is usually well tolerated. A vaccine made for one year may not be useful in the following year, since the virus evolves rapidly. Antiviral drugs such as.. have been used to treat influenza. The benefit of antiviral drugs in those who are otherwise healthy do not appear to be greater than their risks. No benefit has been found in those with other health problems.

    Influenza spreads around the world in yearly outbreaks, resulting in about three to five million cases of severe illness and about 290,000 to 65,000 deaths. About 20% of unvaccinated children and 10% of unvaccinated adults are infected each year… Death occurs mostly in high risk groups- the young, the old, and those with other health problems… In the 20th century, three influenza pandemics occurred: Spanish influenza in 1918 (17-100 milli0n deaths), Asian Influenza in 1957 (two millions deaths), and Hong Kong influenza in 1968 (one million deaths). The World Health Organization declared an outbreak of a new type of influenza A/H1N1 to be a pandemic in June 2009…

    Approximately 33% of people with influenza are asymptomatic.. It can be difficult to distinguish between common cold and influenza in the early stages of these infections. Influenza symptoms are a mixture of symptoms of common cold and pneumonia, body aches, headache, and fatigue…The specific combination of fever and cough has been found to be the best indicator… Occasionally, influenza can cause severe illness including primary viral pneumonia or secondary bacterial pneumonia”.

    I quoted above from Wikipedia’s entries on coronaviruses, SARS, MERS, the common colds and Influenza, four entries. To be continued…



    Dear Reader:

    March 19 updated numbers (numbers continue to be updated, so the following is not true to a later time) from www. worldometers. info/ coronavirus/ country (no spaces):

    Coronavirus cases world-wide: 236,921.  Total deaths worldwide: 9,829. Total numbered of recovered cases: 86,675.

    In the list of countries provided in the website, I counted over 100 countries with no number of deaths listed, and about 50 countries with a single digit of deaths. I do understand that the counting of cases and deaths is not accurate, as testing is not adequate. It is expected that the numbers of cases will rise dramatically as testing for Coronavirus becomes more available in all countries. The expected increased numbers of cases does not mean that the pandemic is getting worse, but that testing has increased!

    The following are numbers for a few of the countries listed, in order listed: first number is the number of total coronavirus cases; the second number, in parenthesis, is number of deaths (For a list of all countries, see the website above): China: 80,928,  (3,245), Italy: 41,036 (3,405),  Iran: 18,407 (1,284), Spain: 17,395 (803), Germany: 14,544 (43), USA 11,355 (171), … UK: 2,692 (137). 50 countries -single digit deaths.

    Back to the numbers in boldface: 236,921 total global cases and 9,829 total global deaths. Some comparison: there were 8,098 total cases and 774 deaths in the Nov 2002-July 2003 SARS outbreak. Another comparison I am making is between the numbers in bold and global influenza cases and deaths (Medscape. com): “The World Health Organization estimates that worldwide, annual influenza epidemics result in about 3-5 million cases of severe illness and about 250,000 to 500,000 deaths.

    The total Coronavirus cases in the US: 11,355, and total deaths: 171. Here is a comparison with the flu (same website as above): “US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that flu-associated deaths in the US ranged from about 3000 to 49,000 annually between 1976 and 2006.”

    www. cdc. gov/flu: “CDC estimates that, from October 1, 2019, through March 7, 2020, there have been: 36,000,000-51,000,000 flu illnesses, 17,000,000-24,000,000 flu medical visits, 370,000-670,000 flu hospitalizations, 22,000-55,000 flu deaths”

    My comparison note: in about a comparable length of time, in the U.S.,there have been 36 million-51 million cases of the flu and 11,355 cases of Coronavirus; 22 thousands-55 thousands flu deaths, and 171 Coronavirus deaths.



    Dear Reader:

    Updated numbers: yesterday there were 236,921 cases of infection, today: 271,675; yesterday there were 9,829 total deaths, today: 11,299, yesterday there were 86,675 recovered cases, today: 90,618.

    Yesterday there 41,036 cases of infection in Italy and 3,405 deaths; today 47,021 cases and 4,032 deaths

    The virus responsible for the current pandemic is Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, aconym: SARS-Cov-2 This is what Wikipedia says about it: “SARS-CoV-2 belongs to the broad family of viruses known as coronaviruses. It is a positive-sense single stranded RNA virus. Other coronaviruses are capable of causing illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS)….

    It is the seventh known coronavirus to  infect people, after 229E, NL63, OC43, HKU1, MERS-CoV, and the original SARS-CoV.”

    The significance of it being an RNA virus vs a DNA virus, is this: “RNA viruses generally have very high mutation rates compared to DNA viruses” (Wiki, on RNA viruses).

    Back to the wiki entry on the virus: “Based upon the low variability exhibited among known SARS-Cov-2 genomic sequences, the strain is thought to have been detected by health authorities within weeks of its emergence among human population in late 2019”, the earliest case of infection thought to have been on Nov 17, 2019 in China, spread to more than 100 countries, then, on Jan 11, 2020 WHO designated it as a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern”, and on March 11, 2020, WHO declared it a pandemic.

    “The basic reproduction number of the virus has been estimated to be between 1.4 and 3.9. This means that each infection from the virus is expected to result in 1.4 to 3.9 new infections when no members of the community are immune and no preventative measures are taken”.

    Regarding “basic reproduction number”, wikipedia: “In epidemiology, the basic reproduction number of an infection can be thought of as the expected number of cases directly generated by one case in a population where all individuals are susceptible to infection..(where there is) absence of ‘any deliberate intervention in disease transmission”.

    My comment, best of my understanding at this point: the thing about viruses, and RNA viruses more than DNA viruses, is that they don’t stay the same, they keep mutating. One virus shows up in one form, infects an animal let’s say, and mutates/ changes, infect another,  mutates further, crosses species to a human, mutates some more, infects another human, mutates even more. Scientists cannot predict mutations. So even though the current SARS-Cov2 has killed way less people than the flue did, in a comparable period of time, no  one can tell if the SARS-Cov2 will become much more deadly as it continues to infect more and more people and mutate each time. This is why it is so important to isolate people/ social distance, so to severely stop the spread of infection and the mutation of the virus that accompanies such a spread.

    Regarding the flu, there is a vaccine that cover a lot of the cases, none exists for the current disease; there are viral treatments approved for the flu, none for the current. But viruses responsible for the flu, they too are RNA viruses that keep mutating, and once in a while there are outbreaks of the flu, so all viral infections have to be monitored and followed at all times by heath authorities in every country and internationally.

    More later.



    Dear Reader:

    Somewhat better numbers today, from worldometers. info/ coronavirus:

    236,921 global cases March 19, 271,675 global cases March 20, and 286,402 cases today, March 21- a smaller increase from yesterday to today than the increase from day before yesterday to yesterday.

    Also a smaller increase in the number of global deaths between yesterday and today vs yesterday and the day before: March 19: 9,829 total deaths, March 20: 11,299, March 21, 11,885

    Also, better news here: of the current 105,471 closed global cases, 93,586 recovered, which is 89% (11,885 died, which is 11%). Also better news, of the current open/ active global cases, 96% of patients are in Mild Condition (4% are in Serious or Critical condition).

    Also—  No New coronavirus cases or deaths from coronavirus in Italy today !!!

    With regret and empathy for all people who are sick today, sick from any kind of disease, and people who lost people they loved to death for any reason, from any cause, I am happy today for these better numbers. I feel ecstatic at this time, I so very, very much want this pandemic to end. I will write more later, but I want this out just in case anyone reads this, just in case. (As I submit this, I didn’t listen to any reports out there, nor interpretations of the numbers, all I’ve seen were the numbers I pointed to in this post, so I received no validation to my optimism this morning).

    anita (7:29 am, Saturday, my time)


    Dear Reader:

    The virus that is causing the current pandemic is SARS-Cov-2 (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2). SARS is not a new occurrence, it didn’t appear for the first time in Dec 2019. It already happened in November 2003. There was an outbreak that soon earned the title epidemic (not a pandemic) 17 years ago, an epidemic that was caused by the virus SARS-Cov  (SARS Coronavirus).

    Let’s look at what happened then, Wikipedia (bold face feature is added by me): “Between November 2002 and July 2003, an outbreak of SARS in Southern China caused an eventual 8,098 cases resulting in 774 deaths  in 17 countries .. 9.6% fatality rate  with the majority of cases in mainland China and Hong Kong… No cases of SARS have been reported worldwide since 2004. However, the related virus SARS-Cov-2 is the cause of the ongoing 2019-20 coronavirus pandemic”..

    “at the end of the epidemic in June 2003, the incidence was 8,422 cases with a case fatality rate of 11% … The viral outbreak can be genetically traces to a colony of cave-dwelling horseshoe bats in China’s Yunnan province. The SARS epidemic appears to have started in Guangdong Province, China, in November 2002 where the first case was reported that same month… Despite taking some action to control it, Chinese government officials did not inform the World Health Organization of the outbreak until February 2003… China has since officially apologized for early slowness in dealing with the SARS epidemic…By the time the WHO took action, over 500 deaths an and an additional 2,000 cases had already occurred worldwide.”

    * My question: Following the Chinese governemnt apology regarding being three months late to report the outbreak to WHO, did the Chinese governemnt report the current outbreak turned pandemic to WHO immediately???

    Back to wiki: “In late February 2003, Italian doctor Carlo Urbani was called into The French Hospital of Hanoi to look at Johnny Chen, an American businessman who had fallen ill with what doctors thought was a bad case of influenza. Urbani realized that Chen’s ailment was probably a new and highly contagious disease. He immediately notified the WHO. He also persuaded the Vietnamese Health Ministry to begin isolating patients and screening travelers, thus slowing the early pace of the epidemic. He subsequently contracted the disease himself, and died in March 2003.”

    The CDC and Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory identified the SARS genome in April 2003… In late may 2003, studies were conducted.. The results found that the SARS coronavirus could  be isolated from masked palm civets.. and more than 10,000 masked palm civets were killed in Guangdong province. The virus was also later found in racoon dogs, ferret badgers, and domestic cats. In 2005, two studies identified a number of SARS- like coronaviruses in Chinese bats. Phylogenic analysis of these viruses indicated a high probability that SARS coronavirus originated in bats and spread to humans either directly or through animals held in Chinese markets.. the disease had jumped across species… In December 2017.. researchers  reported .. that they had found a remote cave in Yunnan province, which is home to the horseshoe bats that carry a strain of a particular virus known as a coronavirus.. that triggered the global outbreak of SARS in 2002′ The research was performed by Shi Zheng-Li, Cui Jie and coworkers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, China and published in PLOS Pathogens. The authors are quoted as stating that ‘another deadly outbreak of SARS could emerge at any time. As they point out, the cave where they discovered their strain is only a kilometer from the nearest village.”

    “The World Health Organization declared severe acute respiratory syndrome contained on 5 July 2003. In the following years, four SARS cases were reported in China between December 2003 and January 2004“.

    Regarding Treatment: “As SARS is a viral disease, antibiotics do not have direct effect, but may be used against bacterial secondary infection… Antiviral medications are used as well as high doses of steroids to reduce swelling in the lungs. People with SARS must be isolated.. As of 2020, there is no cure or protective vaccine for SARS that has been shown to be both safe and effective in humans. According to research papers published in 2005 and 2006, the identification and development of novel vaccines and medicines to treat SARS is a priority for governments and public health agencies around the world. In early 2004, an early clinical trial on volunteers was planned”.

    * My questions:

    1.What happened to that clinical trial, what happened to that high priority of looking for a vaccine in the last 15 years???

    2. If a vaccine for the a SARS virus wasn’t found in 15 years, can one be found any time soon for SARS viruses?

    Will the fact that the current outbreak is a pandemic affecting the developed world greatly (vs the original outbreak that was an epidemic that didn’t affect the developed world greatly) lead to way greater resources being urgently invested into finding a vaccine and viral treatments for the SARS viruses (similar to the vaccine and viral treatments that were found for the influenza viruses and which are currently in use)?



    Hi anita!

    I appreciate this thread very much. I find myself doing what you are doing, self-educating to make sense of what’s happening. It’s nice to be able to post our thoughts and feelings about this situation.

    You wrote in your 4th post that there were no new coronavirus cases and deaths in Italy today (Sat 3/21; it’s evening in Italy right now). I found this (posted by The Guardian about 1 hour ago): In the past 24 hours the coronavirus death toll in Lombardy, Italy’s worst-affected region, has risen by more than by 546 to 3,095, according to official figures. 

    Not sure which report is accurate but I thought I’d put it out there anyway. My information may be wrong. Also, it’s not my intention to create fear; just searching for facts. Going to read your 5th post later today.

    Hope you’re doing well, anita.


    (10:23am Saturday my time)


    * Regarding my first post today: unfortunately, seems that Italy is not doing better at all. The numbers were not updated earlier this morning when I checked the website (worldometers). Now updated,  there has been an increase in cases and in deaths today: 53,578,4,825 total cases and 4,825 total deaths today, which is up from 47,021 total cases  and 4,032 total deaths when I checked yesterday.

    Also, global cases 297,426, deaths 12,775 (up from 286,402 and 11,885 from this morning).

    The better numbers are still better: 88% of patients that were infected with the virus and tested positive for the virus have recovered, and 96% of patients still suffering from the virus show mild symptoms/ are in mild condition.

    —I am going to be more cautious regarding the numbers, I understand now that no number in the data table in the website doesn’t mean zero, but it may very well mean that a number was not yet entered into the data table.



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