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Wuhan Coronavirus is the current deadliest disease that is making headlines all over the world. Devastating deaths rates and quarantines where medicine and science has peaked in the last decades is something we haven't been prepared for. The COVID19 is becoming pandemic - started with China but now with Italy, Iran and South Korea in list. My heart goes out to those who have suffered and still fighting this deadly virus.

The disease itself is scary, and there is no point in adding more fuel to it. So in this post, I am just going to share the brief history of the virus, current research updates and details of people who has successfully recovered from the coronavirus attack. Few useful links on Coronavirus are shared at the end of this article.

Brief History of Coronavirus
Coronaviruses are a large family of RNA viruses that are commonly found in different species of birds and animals including bats. The first human coronavirus was identified in the mid-1960, the HCoV-229E and the HCoV-OC43 are linked to common cold symptoms to developing lower respiratory tract infections. But in the year 2004 and 2005, two more new coronavirus were discovered: NL63 (alpha coronavirus) and HKU1 (beta coronavirus). All these four coronaviruses are common and circulate continuously within the human population, especially in young children. . These virus are commonly found in us as they utilize humans as their natural hosts.

Rarely, animal coronaviruses “host jump” to humans resulting in severe infections especially in the human respiratory tract with high mortality rates. Such human coronaviruses has caused large-scale pandemic, human-to-human transmission, are highly contagious and create potentially life-threatening form of pneumonia. Most of these viruses have bats as its natural reservoirs.
  • SARS-CoV ( Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS) identified in November 2002 -2003 infected civets before spreading to humans. (SARS-CoV is currently not circulating in humans). 
  • MERS-CoV (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS) identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012, though originated in bats was transmitted to camels and then to humans.
  • 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) , also called COVID-19 by World Health Organization (WHO) #COVID19 has its origin to China -Wuhan seafood market in December 2019 where meats of various kinds from birds to wild animals, including bats and snakes, are traded illegally. 
Evidence shows that the new 2019 Novel Coronavirus ( nCoV-2019) is likely to be originated in bats as 96% of its genetic code matches that of Chinese bat populations. However, no bats were found to be sold at the Huanan seafood market so there must be an intermediate host that made the virus jump from bats to humans. Though many speculate that it might be snakes which is sold in the local seafood market in Wuhan, the South China Agricultural University researches in Guangdong suggests that the Pangolin, an endangered mammal might be the potential intermediate host ( illegally poached for its scales that are used in traditional Chinese medicine and whose meat is a delicacy in China and Vietnam) as the samples of coronaviruses taken from wild pangolins and from infected patients are 99% identical.

coronavirus updates

Illness in humans is mostly respiratory or gastrointestinal infections, however symptoms can range from the common cold to more severe lower respiratory infections such as pneumonia. Epithelial cells in the respiratory and gastrointestinal tract are the primary target cells.

Symptoms can include:
Runny noses, Fever, Cough, Headaches, Shortness of breath to more serious respiratory tract illness including Pneumonia and Bronchitis.

Medicinal Research and Findings
The body generally takes three days from the time of infection for symptoms to manifest, but a 14-day period of self-quarantine is regarded as safe as any symptoms will appear within two weeks of exposure. The recent studies shows that Animal coronaviruses that “host jump” to humans result in severe infections with high mortality rates and are said to remain infectious on surface materials common to public and domestic areas for several days.

Research on Copper alloys have demonstrated excellent antibacterial and antifungal activity against a range of pathogens in laboratory studies. Previous studies on Norovirus shows that noroviruses (or winter vomiting bug) are destroyed on copper alloy surfaces. Similar studies conducted on human coronavirus 229E shows that the cornavirus shows rapid inactivation, irreversible destruction of viral RNA, and massive structural damage when exposed to copper and copper alloy surfaces.

Incorporation of copper alloy surfaces (in communal areas and at any mass gatherings) in conjunction with effective cleaning regimens help reduce transmission of respiratory viruses from contaminated surfaces including MERS and SARS.

"Cold and high humidity increase their lifespan," said Professor Günter Kampf from the Institute for Hygiene and Environmental Medicine at the University Medical Center Greifswald. For disinfection, the researchers recommend agents based on ethanol, hydrogen peroxide or sodium hypochlorite. If these are used in the correct concentration, they drastically reduce the number of infectious corona viruses within one minute - from one million to only 100 disease-causing particles.

coronavirus updates
The Chinese government has recorded and shared the genetic sequences of around 19 strains of the virus so that other countries could develop their own diagnostic kits.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are closely monitoring the Wuhan coronavirus and are testing patient specimens using their new laboratory test kit called the “Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 2019-Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Real-Time Reverse Transcriptase (RT)-PCR Diagnostic Panel”. The collected 2019-nCoV clinical specimen from the first U.S. patient by the CDC is been growing in cell-culture so that researchers in the scientific and medical community can use the virus in their studies including Antiviral research, Pathogenesis research and Virus stability research.

There is currently no vaccine to prevent 2019-nCoV infection. Recent studies tells a lot is to be known as this virus can continue to evolve and become more transmissible between human-to-human. Antibiotics do not work against viruses but Antiviral drugs can but to develop it might take a year or more as the transmission routine of this virus among hosts is still unknown including its basic biology or animal source.

Currently to curb the spread of COVID19 virus, the doctors and scientists are using the same technique as they did SARS-CoV. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV) was completely eliminated from the human population by isolating and quarantining people with the help of international co-operation until the virus passes out the system and could no longer be transmitted to others.

Different approaches is been tested to find a treatment plan for Coronavirus:
  • Recommended treatment for pneumonia caused by the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV) uses HIV drug Kaletra(also called as Aluvia) - has two antiretroviral components, lopinavir and ritonavir, are protease inhibitors designed to block HIV viral replication. 
  • Gilead's Ebola drug "Remdesivir" has been tried on a confirmed coronavirus patient who showed improvement one day after taking the drug. Though this drug is not a cure it is thought to block the activity of a protein that helps coronaviruses making copies of themselves. It should be noted that this drug is not approved by Food and Drug Administration or by any other regulatory body.
  • Moderna (MRNA), a clinical stage biotechnology company has shipped its the first batch of coronavirus vaccine called "mRNA-1273" for Phase 1 study on humans to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the US. - as reported on February 24, 2020. It should be noted that other big drugmakers like Johnson & Johnson, Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Sanofi SA have also started to develop coronavirus vaccines for human clinical trials.
What to do next?
The best way to prevent infection of 2019-nCov is to avoid being exposed to this virus.

Risk of infection is dependent on exposure. As it is currently flu and respiratory disease season, with symptoms of coronavirus and flu being similar, CDC recommends getting a flu vaccine, for people with serious health conditions, elderly and young children.

People infected with this virus should receive seek immediate medical care with rest, fluids, fever control to help relieve symptoms and for severe cases, treatment should include care to support vital organ functions.

Wearing Masks has proven no effect in getting coronovirus yourself although it helps actively sick people to stop the spread of infection to others.

Has any cornavirus affected person been cured successfully?
The good news is yes. Nick-named, the super-spreader UK Businessman Steve Walsh aged 53 has been discharged from the hospital after his recovery from COVID19.  Another case  of a four-year old girl from China on a vacation in Malaysia has recovered successfully from Coronavirus. Similarly, Liu Yujia, a 73-year-old Chinese woman was cured of coronavirus in the UAE.

All these cases, young and old have proved that age doesn't matter but keeping your immune system strong enough to fight the disease is. A diet rich in fruits, vegetable soups, vitamin C and always keeping the body well hydrated will speed up the recovery process.

Interestingly, there is an update on Wikipedia that all 16 of Vietnam's coronavirus sufferers has been fully cured from the 2020 coronavirus outbreak in Vietnam. The worldometers website gives an approximate data of people who have been affected by coronavirus - both succumbed and successfully recovered numbers.


Other Links:
Story of Coronavirus affected Cruise ship "Diamond Princess" - by Vlogger David Abel
Video of "How A Virus Invades Your Body" by NPR's Robert Krulwich and medical animator David Bolinsky .
Video - Everything about the coronavirus - by The Telegraph

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