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COVID-19: let's try to understand it better

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  • #344776
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Reader:

    In this thread, I will try to present what I am learning in the most simple and clear way, in bite size pieces. I am not a scientist, a medical doctor or any kind of health professional. I am a member here just like you are (or can be if you register), trying to understand the basics. You are welcome to contribute to this thread in an effort to understand better the disease, the virus that causes it, and the nature of our global pandemic.

    The official name of the disease is COVID-19, an acronym for Coronavirus Disease- 2019.

    The name of the virus causing the disease is SARS-Cov-2, an acronym for Severe Acute Respiratory Disease Corona Virus 2.

    There are currently seven known coronaviruses that infect humans:

    1. Human coronavirus 229E (HCoV-229E), discovered in the 1960s, responsible for the common cold.

    2. Human coronavirus OC43 (HCoV-Oc43), discovered in the 1960s, responsible for the common cold.

    3. Severe Acute Respiratory Disease Coronavirus (SARS-CoV), discovered in 2003 in China, responsible for the SARS epidemic of 2002-2003, 8,422 cases, spread to 17 countries, 11% fatality rate.

    4. Human coronavirus NL63 (HCoV-NL63) discovered in 2004, responsible for respiratory disease.

    5. Human coronavirus HKU1 (HCoV-HKU1), discovered in 2005, responsible for respiratory disease.

    6. Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), discovered in 2012 in Saudi Arabia, spread in the middle east and in South Korea (a few cases in Europe, USA and elsewhere), responsible for just under 2,000 cases as of April 2017 (36% fatality rate). In May 2019, only 14 cases of MERS were reported to WHO by Saudi Authorities.

    7. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), discovered in 2019, responsible for the current COVID-19 pandemic.

    anita

     

    • This topic was modified 2 months ago by anita.
    #345126
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Reader:

    The basic reproduction number (Ro) of an infection is basically how many (unvaccinated) people are likely to get infected by one infected individual. According to Wikipedia’s numbers in their entry on the topic, the Ro of SARS-Cov-2 (the COVID-19 virus)  is between 1.4 and 3.9 (1.4-3.9), meaning each person infected with the COVID-19 is likely to infect between 1.4 to 3.9 people, rounded it would be each two infected people proceeding to infect  3, 4, 5, 6, 7 or 8  people (depending on the part of the world, I figure).

    Let’s compare this to the Ro of other diseases caused by viruses from least to most: MERS: 0.3-0.8, Influenza (2009 pandemic strain, aka swine flu): 1.4-1.6, Influenza (seasonal stains): 1.9-2.1, Influenza (1918 pandemic strain aka The Spanish Flu): 1.4-2.8, Ebola (2014 Ebola outbreak): 1.5-2.5,<b> COVID-19: 1.4-3.9</b>, SARS (early 2000s): 2-5, AIDS: 2-5, Smallpox: 3.5-6, Mumps: 4-7, Rubella: 5-7, Polio: 5-7, Measles: 12-18.

    As you can see, the COVID-19 is very contagious, although not as contagious as some. Thing is, there are vaccines for measles, the most contagious of all viral diseases, as well as for polio, rubella, mumps, smallpox, and influenza, but none for AIDS, Ebola,  SARS (caused by the coronavirus, SARS-Cov), MERS (caused by the coronavirus MERS-Cov ), or for COVID-19 (caused by the coronavirus, SARS-Cov-2).

    The current danger SARS-Cov-2, the COVID-19 virus,  to our global population, is a combination of:

    1.  It very contagious (Ro).

    2. Too many people are currently infected, the first outbreak has grown into a series of global outbreaks, turned epidemics, turned into a global pandemic, meaning, as an example (I am guessing the numbers that follow for the purpose of giving this example): an Ro of 1 meant that 1000 people were infected during the first outbreak, 20,000 during the series of epidemic and 200,000 during the pandemic).

    3. There is no vaccine for the disease.

    4. There is no viral treatment for the disease.

    5. The health care system in every country at best can take care of pre-COVID-19 patients suffering from all the existing diseases prior to COVID-19, but none is equipped (personnel, equipment, etc.) to take care of the additional COVID-19 patients that experience a severe form of the disease. Even though 95% of currently infected patients suffer a mild form of the disease and only 5% of  patients suffer severely, requiring hospitalization- that 5% translates to a huge number of patients needing hospitalization, because of the large numbers (#2, above).

    anita

    • This reply was modified 2 months ago by anita.
    #345138
    anita
    Participant

    * Brandy, in case you are following this: I discovered your reply to my previous thread on the topic after my last post on that thread (you and I were typing and submitting about the same time, and my post appeared just a bit following yours, so I didn’t notice your reply). As you can see in that thread, I did notice my mistakes regarding the numbers, which is what you correctly commented about. Thank you for that post.

    anita

    #345222
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Reader:

    I forgot #6, an big item, so here is a re-writing of #1-5, plus the sixth item-

    The current danger that SARS-Cov-2 poses to our global population is a result of the following:

    1. The virus is very contagious. The Ro number: 1.4-3.9 (wikipedia), WHO estimated it to be 1.4-2.5 on Jan 23, a preliminary and later studies estimated it to be 1.5-3.5, and  3.6-4 (Worldometers.info/coronavirus).

    2. Too many people are currently infected (the current number of total global coronavirus cases is 422,566).

    3. There is no vaccine for the COVID-19.

    4. There is no anti-viral treatment for the COVID-19.

    5. The health system in every country is not prepared for a massive inflow of COVID-19  patients needing hospitalization (to be added to patients already there as a result of other diseases and injuries, etc.

    6. The greater the numbers of people infected/ the greater the number of hosts, the more the virus mutates, and the greater the chance that a more aggressive viruses results from the repeated mutations, such that are more contagious coronavirus (a bigger Ro), and/ or a coronavirus that cause more severe symptoms/ a more severe form of the disease, and more deaths.

    anita

     

    #345244
    Brandy
    Participant

    Hi anita,

    I watch the news and the coronavirus “curves” that we’re all trying to flatten but I think none of us really knows what’s happening and that we won’t until the general public takes the COVID-19 antibody tests. The antibody test will tell us if the virus has ever entered our bodies, as opposed to the COVID-19 standard test which measures if the actual virus is present in our bodies at any particular moment in time. The antibody test makes more sense to me because it will reveal if the virus has already entered the bodies of many more people than we think, thus lowering the mortality rate of this virus.

    It’s believed that the first cases of COVID-19 were seen on Nov. 17, 2019 in Wuhan, China yet daily flights continued from China to the US from Nov 17, 2019 through Jan 31, 2020 (that’s 2.5 months) before the travel ban began (I’m not placing blame on anyone; just stating facts). That’s a lot of flights and a lot of people traveling from China to the US! It’s believed that the first COVID-19 case in the US occurred when a Washington state man in his 30’s returned home on Jan 15, 2020 from Wuhan and sought medical treatment when he started to experience pneumonia-type symptoms. But knowing what we know about how highly contagious this virus is, isn’t it likely that others who were infected but perhaps had milder symptoms were on some of those many flights to the US from China before the travel ban began? In other words, isn’t it likely that many more Americans were already infected but didn’t know it before the sick WA state man arrived? It may be that this WA man was the first person in the US who experienced serious COVID-19 symptoms, not the first person in the US with COVID-19.

    This is important because it tells us 1) how dangerous this virus is and 2) who should be back at work helping to stimulate the economy. People may say “People are dying! Of course it’s dangerous!”, but I’d like to know how the virus relates to common influenza which kills tens of thousands in the US each year. In mid-January I myself experienced a dry cough and mild shortness of breath that I attributed to just some random virus that I picked up during the cold/flu season, which indeed it may have been, but I wonder if a COVID-19 antibody test would show otherwise. My symptoms started exactly two months after the first COVID-19 cases were discovered in Wuhan and daily flights were continuing out of China to the US. If I have the antibodies (and I have fully recovered btw) then shouldn’t I be back at work helping the economy? And shouldn’t everyone else who has the antibodies be doing the same, and eating out at restaurants, and out purchasing from retailers that are closed because of this crisis?

    I’m aware that there’s concern about re-infection, that some people may be getting the virus again after they’ve “healed” from it, but I think we need to take that off the table for now because what I’ve read is that these folks may have never truly healed the first time after all, and that more testing is needed to know for sure.

    B

    #345248
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Brandy:

    I am glad you posted in my thread! I am looking forward to read it thoroughly first thing tomorrow morning, in about 11 hours from now.

    anita

    #345254
    Brandy
    Participant

    Sounds good, anita. Also, I was thinking, perhaps the general public needs both tests: 1) the standard test to prove that at this moment in time they are not infected (so they can’t unknowingly infect someone else including high-risk people), and 2) the antibody test to prove that they have the antibodies needed to fight off the virus in the event that they come into contact with someone who is infected. If they pass both tests then they should be good to go! Does that make sense?

    #345312
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Brandy:

    First this morning I will reply to your posts here without looking anything up, using my words  based on what I remember reading and understanding yesterday and before:

    Regarding an antibody test for the COVID-19 virus aka SARS-Cov-2: similar to a people being infected with any of the viruses causing the common cold (one of which is a coronavirus), the body makes antibodies for it, but those antibodies don’t work long term and the person gets a common cold again, a few months or a year later. The reason is that the common cold viruses mutate faster than other viruses, so in a matter of a few months, the common cold viruses around are too different from what they were at the time the antibodies were created. This is why scientists didn’t succeed in creating a vaccine for the common cold.

    So, let’s say you take an antibody test and you have the antibodies for the virus, that doesn’t mean that you are immune to the virus a month or so in the future.

    Similarly, the test that detects the virus itself, that doesn’t mean a person tested negative for the virus will not be infected with it a moment later, or an hour later.

    Because an outbreak of an infectious disease in one location, turned a series of epidemics in more and more locations around the world, turned pandemic is about numbers, it is crucial that hospitals anywhere and everywhere in the world notify the WHO (and whatever institutions are affiliated with WHO) of each and every infectious disease they treat in their hospital, updating an international online database.

    It is believed that the first case of COVID-19 took place in Nov 17, 2019 in Wuhan, China- I am guessing the doctors thought it was the flu at the time, but retroactively, scientists figure it was probably COVID-19. The travel ban from China, obviously should have been put into place way earlier than it was. Failures to isolate infected people early on in China and failure to ban travel from China led to this pandemic. It is a matter of numbers, and the number should have been stopped from growing As Soon As Possible.

    In addition, the last SARS originated in China, caused by the SARS-Coronavirus in 2002, causing epidemics in 17 countries, I think, maybe more. China failed to notify the world early, apologized for it, but failed to regulate the bat/ wildlife food markets knowing that the virus responsible for the series of epidemics originated in bats in 2002, crossing species to humans. I figure WHO and health authorities in all countries in the world failed to pressure China to stop this dangerous bat/wildlife unregulated food market ongoing practice in China, and anywhere else where it is practiced.

    I agree with you: it is very likely that many people other than the one man who flew from China to the WA, USA on Jan 15, brought the virus with them before, during and after that Jan 15 flight, people with mild symptoms or no symptoms at all.

    Regarding how the virus relates to Influenza aka the flu- I will read about it more later, but what I know is that there is a vaccine for the flu. The viruses that cause the flu are not coronaviruses. They mutate (all viruses mutate each time they replicate themselves/multiply inside a host), but not as quickly as coronaviruses. Therefore it was possible to come up with a vaccine. I am assuming (read nothing about it) that the flu vaccine gets updated over time, to fit newer and newer strains of the flu viruses.

    One reason the flu kills so many people is that many don’t get vaccinated (thanks in part to the antivaxers). This pandemic should be a wake up call to everyone to get vaccinated for every viral disease that can possibly infect us, including any and all airborne viruses. In addition to getting vaccinated, washing hands, cleaning surfaces etc.. are necessary preventative measures.

    I am glad you fully recovered from the flu (or the COVID-19) symptoms in mid Jan. You wrote: “If I have antibodies.. then shouldn’t I be back at work helping the economy? And shouldn’t everyone else who has the antibodies be doing the same, and eating out at restaurants, and out purchasing from retailers…?”- in theory it reads right, problem is that your antibodies may not work for the newer strains of the virus.

    Viruses are about numbers: once they enter a host they multiply quickly, and every time their genetic material gets replicated, mutations happen. They spread to new hosts, and each and every new host is a new opportunity for more mutations, and before you know it, there is a variety of virus strains of the earlier virus form. It is called the evolution of a virus.

    The measles virus is the most contagious by far of all  viruses, yet the vaccine for it works so well. I am guessing the measles virus’s evolution is slow, that is, it doesn’t mutate fast.

    A point of interest to me: the common cold virus mutates a whole lot and quickly, but the common cold is a mild form of respiratory disease. The current COVID-19 virus causes mild symptoms in 95% of people infected, and this percentage has stayed the same for a long time. Maybe it will not mutate and form a more aggressive virus strain (which will cause severe symptoms), just like the common cold coronavirus didn’t evolve into a more aggressive form. But it may evolve into more contagious forms (a higher Ro), and I think it already did, because there are different estimations of the Ro in different studies.

    “perhaps the general public needs both tests: 1) the standard test.. 2) the antibody test… If the pass both tests then they should be good to go! Does that make sense?”- to allow people who test negative for the standard test to go out and about, stimulating the economy, the following will need to be done: immediately after administering the test, the people tested will need to be isolated where there is no chance for them getting infected after the test. Then when the results arrive, those with negative results will be allowed out to join the public,  only the public cannot include people who were not yet tested.

    So your idea will take emptying the public from people completely, testing the first batch of people, letting out into pubic those tested negative, then testing the second batch of people, batch by batch. I don’t think it’s practical. What is practical is the current measures of isolation and waiting for the virus to peak in every population it has infected, and then die out, like what happened with the SARS of the early 200s and the MERS later.

    I look forward to read more from you.

    anita

     

    • This reply was modified 2 months ago by anita.
    #345346
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Brandy/ Reader:

    www. cdc. gov/ flu/ vaccines: “CDC conducts studies each year to determine how well the influenza (flu) vaccine protects against flu illness.. recent studies show that flu vaccination reduces the risk of flu illness by between 40% and 60% among the overall population during seasons when most circulating flu viruses are well-matched to the flu vaccine….At least two factors play an important role in determining the likelihood that flu vaccine will protect a person from flu illness: 1) characteristics of the person being vaccinated (such as their age and health), and 2) the similarity or “match” between the flu viruses the flu vaccine is designed to protect against and the flu viruses spreading in the community… in general, recent studies have supported the conclusion that flu vaccination benefits public health, especially when the flu vaccine is well matched to circulating flu viruses”-

    -my comment:  this means that the flu viruses (plural) keep mutating and evolving and a vaccine needs to be updated over time so to match a current mix of flu viruses.

    The common cold viruses (again, plural) mutate and evolve so fast, that no vaccine ever caught up to their changeability, so there never has been a vaccine for the common cold.

    No vaccine has been developed for the coronaviruses involved in the common cold or in the SARS and MERS coronavirus outbreaks that happened earlier in the 2000’s.

    Back to the CDC (Center of Disease Control, USA) website: “Flu vaccine prevents millions of illnesses and flu-related doctor’s visits each year. For example, during 2017-2018, flu vaccination prevented an estimated 6.2 million influenza illnesses, 3.2 million influenza-associated medical visits, 91,000 influenza-associated hospitalizations, and 5,700 influenza-associated deaths…Getting vaccinated yourself may also protect people around you, including those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness, like babies and young children, older people, and people with certain chronic health conditions.”-

    – better take advantage of the flu vaccine and get vaccinated!

    As to numbers today, according to worldometers: the number not in parenthesis is the number of total cases of infection, and the number in parenthesis is the total number of deaths:

    3/19 (Thursday)- total global cases: 236,921 (9,829). 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).

    3/23 (Monday)- total global cases: 358,803 (15,433), China 81,093 (3,270), Italy 59,138 (5,476), Iran 23,049 (1,812), Spain 33,089 (2,206), Germany 27,546 (115), USA 39,371 (467).

    3/2 5(Wednesday)-  total global cases: <b>452,159</b>, (<b>20,494</b>), China 81,218 (3,281), Italy 74,386 (7,503), Iran 27,017 (2,077), Spain 47,610 (3,434), Germany 35,740 (2,749), USA 60,653 (5,797).

    *** total global cases almost doubled in six days, an increase of almost 100%, but China’s total cases increased by less than 2%, so I suppose the outbreak has slowed down significantly there, and has been slowing down for a while. On the other hand the pandemic is going strongest in Italy and Spain and is escalating in the USA. (I didn’t look at all the countries listed).

    As long as borders are closed between countries, and for as long as social distancing and precautions are maintained in each country, and before an effective antiviral medication and/ or a vaccine becomes available, it really is about each country’s curve of total number of cases going up,  peaking, and then slowly going down in each and every country.

    So it is a matter of time, waiting while socially distancing, and taking all the precautions recommended by the WHO and CDC.

    anita

    • This reply was modified 2 months ago by anita.
    #345356
    Brandy
    Participant

    Hi anita,

    I don’t understand why my earlier post today is awaiting moderation. It may be because I copied and pasted from two recent online newspaper articles (Washington Post and NY Magazine) and of course gave credit to those publications and enclosed what was copied inside quotation marks and within italics, but my paste operation may have triggered the required modification anyway?

    There are recent reports that scientists are finding that COVID-19 does not mutate quickly at all and may respond to only one vaccine (as opposed to the influenza vaccine which changes each year). Johns Hopkins University is one source of this information.

    B

    #345362
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Brandy:

    Yes, I believe it happens automatically, this is why I type website addresses with spaces, ex., ww. cdc. gov.

    I sure hope this virus does not mutate quickly, sure hope it doesn’t. I wonder why a vaccine for the SARS-Cov of 2002-2003, being in the works for about fifteen years wasn’t found yet. That SARS caused 8,098 reported infections and 741 deaths in 32 countries in a single fall-to-spring period in 2002-2003 and led to travel restrictions back then, had significant effects on the global economy back then, and yet no vaccine yet. (medscape. com).

    I am looking forward to your post coming through.

    anita

    #345370
    Brandy
    Participant

    Hi anita,

    Maybe it’s best for you and anyone else who is following this thread to research the topic of COVID-19 mutation rate on their own instead of me posting from various publications. Then we can discuss our own conclusions.

    From what I’ve read, I think it’s possible that those who are shown to have COVID-19 antibodies have a good chance of not being infected (or re-infected which may be the case for some) by the virus this season. But I understand that the info is fluid and may be different tomorrow.

    B

    #345378
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Brandy:

    “info is fluid”, yes. That’s why the solid social isolation is enforced. I may start a new thread with a lighter emotional tone. I will probably add to this thread, but at the moment I feel that I understand enough, as a non-professional,  what is going on. Thank you for your input so far, and feel free to post further, or not, whatever works for you. Take good care of yourself. I know your kids are all adults, I hope they are doing well, under the circumstances.

    anita

    #345774
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Reader:

    A summary from my previous thread on the topic, titled “Coronavirus”:

    The first case of the current pandemic infection is believed to have taken place November 17, 2019 in China. On January 30, 2020, WHO (World Health Organization) designated the outbreak at the time a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern”. On March 11, 2020, WHO declared it a pandemic.

    SARS stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. It is a viral respiratory disease caused by coronaviruses (SARS-Cov) and it spreads from one person to the next in the same ways that the flu does. The current is the second SARS outbreak.

    The first SARS outbreak started in China in November 2002, and ended in July 2003 (WHO declared it contained July 5, 2003, but 4 SARS cases were reported in China between Dec 2003 and Jan 2004).  It spread in 17 countries,  involved 8,098 cases, resulting in 774 death (9.6 fatality rate), with the majority of cases in mainland China and Hong Kong.

    In comparison, the second SARS outbreak (the current) started in China, spread into about 200 countries, and (according to worldometers.info/coronavirus, today) , the number of cases is 585,000 (and growing), resulting in 26,827 deaths so far (17% mortality rate), with the majority of cases currently in the USA, Italy, China and Spain, in this order.

    The current SARS pandemic, involves so far 72 times the number of cases, and 35 times the number of deaths (mortality rate almost double) than the SARS outbreak of Nov 2002-July 2003.

    The CDC (Center for Disease Control, USA) and Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory identified the SARS genome in April 2003, during the first SARS outbreak.

    MERS, stands for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome was another outbreak of a respiratory infection caused by coronaviruses (MERS-Cov). The first identified case occurred in 2012 in Saudi Arabia and most cases occurred in the Arabian Peninsula. There was a further outbreak of MERS in 2015 in South Korea and another in 2018. There were just under 2,000 cases total as of April 2017 (36% fatality rate). In May 2019, only 14 cases were reported to WHO by Saudi authorities.

    Influenza is not caused by the coronaviruses but by a variety of Influenza viruses. It spreads around the world in yearly outbreaks, resulting, according to WHO,  “in about 3-5 million cases of severe illness and about 290,000- 65,000 deaths” every year. 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.

    Notice the following: 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 death”-

    – this means that in the USA alone, in five months, here were 36-51 million cases of the flu, which is (at 50 millions) 100 times the number of current COVID-19 total cases in the world. But the flu involves a way lesser mortality rate (22,00-55,000 flu deaths compared to current 26,827 COVID-19 deaths).

    I am going to stop here, need a break (this is stressful!)

    anita

    • This reply was modified 2 months ago by anita.
    #345876
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Reader:

    An excellent website that gives you accurate numerical data with graphs regarding the pandemic is www. worldometers. info/ coronavirus (no spaces). At the top you will see first, the “Coronavirus Cases” number, that’s the number of people infected worldwide since the beginning of the pandemic. Click “countries” (in green, above the number) and you will get a data table listing countries and numbers.

    Click on the country you live in and you will get the “Coronavirus Cases” number in your country. Scroll down, and the first graph you will see is the “Total Cases” graph, a linear graph, with timeline as the horizonal line, and numbers( in thousands) as the vertical line.

    For as long as each country is closed to other countries, for as long as borders are closed and if people are allowed back into a country, they are adequately quarantined, what matters as far as predicting how long the pandemic will last in your country is this graph.

    If you click on China, you will see that the Total Cases graph starts Jan 22 this year, the line goes up from there and flattens in about Feb 15. It remains flat to this day. This is how the graph in your country should look like: flattened.

    If you click on Italy, you will see that the Total Cases graph starts Feb 15 (same start date as the countries I will mention next), and the line starts going up in the very beginning of March; line is still going up. Same if you click Iran (line starts going up in about March 2). Click Spain, and you’ll see the line starts to going up on about March 10. It is still going up. Click the UK and you’ll see, and you’ll see that the line starts going up at about March 15 and is still going up. Click USA and you’ll see that the line starts going up on about March 17, and is still going up. Click India, and you’ll see that the line starts going up slowly on March 10, but steeply on March 20.

    Depending on the borders remaining closed, quarantine and social distancing practices being as adequate as these were enforced in China, the Total Cases graph in each country should follow the same change as for China: the line no longer going up. Looking at the China graph, hopefully it will happen in about roughly a month from the time the line starts going up.

    * A reminder: I am not a scientist or a professional of any kind, but a member using logic so to understand available online data from a website that is dependable and as accurate as can be. I suggest that you look it up yourself and figure it out. (There are other numbers, graphs and more in that website).

    anita

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