They are a group of RNA viruses, and the word corona meaning crown or wreath. Corona viruses mostly cause infection in mammals and birds. When it infects cattle or pigs, the commonest clinical feature is diarrhoea. When it infets human (mostly children), the commonest clinical feature is chest infections similar to those in common cold infections.
Corona viruses were first identified in the early 1960s, and they are the biggest in size of all known RNA viruses. They are enveloped viruses with a positive-sense single-stranded RNA genome and a nucleocapsid of helical symmetry. To protect themselves, these viruses tend to envelope themselves when they are out of their host targets. In general, they cause mild flu-like illnesses, but there are few virulent small groups such as SARS-CoV in 2003, HCoV NL63 in 2004, HKU1 in 2005, MERS-CoV in 2012, and SARS-CoV-2 in 2019, and the latest of these serious infectious viruses is of course Covid 19, and those virulent viruses are known to cause serious respiratory tract infections and death for the vulnerable group of people.
Currently, there are no identified anti-viral agents against corona viruses, nor there are any discovered vaccinations, but the world now is witnessing a collaborative work between scientists to develop effective antiviral agents and specific vaccinations.
Covid 19 is the latest of the corona viruses group to cause the current havoc around the world. The latest statistics of today’s 15 March 2020 showed that a total of 163,332 identified infections in the world; with 6,086 deaths, 5,655 critical and 76,219 fully recovered (cured):-
- Always starts with a fever, then dry cough.
- After a week, it can lead to increasing shortness of breath, with about 20% of patients requiring hospital treatment.
It is worth noting that, the COVID-19 infection rarely causes runny nose, sneezing, or sore throat. Those symptoms have been observed only in about 5% of patients. Sore throat, sneezing, and stuffy nose are more suggestive of a common cold, than corona infections.
Disease course so far:
- Mid, with a flu like symptoms = 80.9%.
- Severe, with pneumonia and severe short of breath= 13.8%.
- Critical, with respiratory failure, septic shock, and multi-organ failure= 4.7%.
- Death = 2%.
- Increased risk of death with older age, especially those with other medical problems.
- Relatively much fewer cases among children.
- Get away from gathering places such as busy markets, cinema/theatres, stadia, very crowded gymnasia, holiday busy resorts, busy restaurants. Also; airports, ferries, trains, and underground travelling at peak times.
- Keep your distance for at least two metres from anyone coughing.
- If you cough or sneeze, always at least put your hand or elbow sleeve on your mouth if not able to use something else such as handkerchiefs.
- Always wash your hands, and rub with alcohol spirits after touching any object especially in public places.
- Always remember that mouth, nose and eyes are the main sources of entry of the virus to your body. Try to avoid touching them, or wash your hands before doing that.
- If you think that you may had the virus infection by experiencing raised temperature, dry/productive cough, or sudden shortness of breath/sneezing/new wheezes/or new blocked nose. If you experience any of those symptoms, it is better to isolate yourself away from people or at least keep your distance.
- Never panic about corona virus. Calm down and drink a lot of fluids, eat healthy food, and remember oranges and other citreous fruits are good sources for vitamin C.
- Exercise, to enhance your circulation, and that dilutes the viruses inside your body to allow your protective white cells to engulf them.
- At the end of the day, getting corona virus infection is not the end of the world. Probably, less than 1% from all of those infected may die, and those who die are those who were very old, have underlying medical problems, or were immunocompromised. If you are healthy, you will for sure beat the virus and recover very quickly. Please avoid passing it to anyone else by every possible way. Here, we need to be humane and very sincere to each other.
Treatment & Prevention:
For the time being, there is no anti-virus treatment available, and there is no discovered vaccinations as yet. There will be a vaccination, and there might be an anti-virus in the next few weeks. By that time, I think the virus would have gone away and life would go on as usual.
Just to mention here the recent trials of anti-viral agents:
- Health officials from WHO have noted that Gilead’s remdesivir has demonstrated efficacy in treating the corona virus infection.
- Favilavir, the first approved corona virus drug in China
- HIV and flu anti-virals.
- Sarilumab(Kevzara), used for Rheumatoid arthritis.
- Chloroquine, used for malaria.
- Blood plasma exchanges.
Here is a list of the major coronavirus vaccinations those pharmaceutical companies across the world are developing that have the potential to become major coronavirus vaccines to protect against the contagious coronavirus infection:
- Altimmune’s intranasal coronavirus vaccine.
- INO-4800 by Inovio Pharmaceuticals and Beijing Advaccine Biotechnology.
- NP-120(Ifenprodil) by Algernon Pharmaceuticals.
- APN01 by University of British Columbia and APEIRON Biologics.
- mRNA-1273 vaccine by Moderna and Vaccine Research Center.
- Avian Coronavirus Infectious Bronchitis Virus (IBV) vaccine by MIGAL Research Institute.
- TNX-1800 by Tonix Pharmaceuticals.
- Brilacidin by Innovation Pharmaceuticals.
- Recombinant subunit vaccine by Clover Biopharmaceuticals.
- Vaxart’s oronavirus vaccine.
- Linear DNA Vaccine by Applied DNA Sciences and Takis Biotech.
- BXT-25 by BIOXYTRAN to treat late-stage acute respiratory distress syndrome(ARDS).
- MERS CoV vaccines for coronavirus.
- Inovio Pharma’s INO-4700 .
Many more are currently in progress, and for sure a protective vaccination will be produced in the next few weeks.
Please, be positive, motivated, very well aware, and never panic… wish you all the best.
Finally, just a little reminder to all colleague doctors in hospitals anywhere in the world… you are the best protected people because of your ever activated immune system from previous exposures during your clinical encounters with different patients. Yes, you don’t carry in your blood those antibodies for covid-19 virus, but always remember that your immune system is probably at its best all the time. You definitely need to protect yourselves, and protect your patients and all colleagues; but never run away from your patients. As doctors, you knew very well how to wash your hands, how to use the alcohol wipes, and how to keep your distance. In any suspicious cases, please never try to be a hero. Use your commonsense, and your knowledge, but never run away from your duties.
For all of you readers, please, be positive, motivated, very well aware, and never panic… wish you all a peaceful escape from this yet anther pandemic !!.