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Updating On COVID-19: Then And Now

Updated: Oct 31, 2023

✍🏽 Aaditi Kumbhar | MPH Epidemiology Graduate from New York University

 

What is COVID-19? 🦠

COVID-19, also known commonly as “the novel coronavirus”, is an airborne virus that is spread person to person via air droplets. This virus originated in bats but can be passed on to humans.

A COVID-19 particle

In early 2020, the spread of the virus caused a pandemic with breakouts affecting almost every country. This virus is spread through droplets in the air produced when infected people talk, breathe and cough, meaning it is extremely difficult to control in populated urban areas.

As of May 7, 2020, there were about 1,219,066 cases found in the United States.
 

How does COVID-19 infection work? 💉

Viruses are microscopic infectious particles that latch onto receptors within a human and spread their DNA to cells throughout the body replicate and continue to infect.

Viruses require receptors that are found on the outside of our cells in order to attach, enter and attack body cells. COVID-19 requires a specific receptor known as angiotensin converting enzyme 2, also known as ACE2. Think of it as a lock-and-key mechanism. The virus (key) latches onto the receptor (lock) and spreads infection by replicating itself and it's DNA throughout previously healthy cells.


Once in the body, the virus directly attacks the lungs. The alveoli, or the little air sacs within the lungs, are rich with the ACE2 receptors that the virus can latch onto. Therefore, the virus can become incredibly potent in the lungs very quickly. The lungs are known as “ground zero" as it is the initial site of infection, but the virus can then spread to other parts of the body as well. Other organs known to be affected are the heart, blood vessels, kidneys, gut, and brain. If not managed with the right medical care, patients can develop pneumonia or even Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome or ARDS. ARDS is caused by a rapid decline in oxygen content in the body, putting stress on internal organs.


Illustration of the lungs
 
Just like the common cold or the influenza virus, the COVID-19 virus genes change slightly over time to create a new strain, or variant.

Variants are defined by certain characteristics:

Transmissibility: The ability to transfer from host to host

Severity: Intensity of experienced symptoms

Drug/Vaccine Efficacy: How well drugs/administered vaccines work against the virus


From December 2020 to present day, there are over 26 variants of the original COVID-19 virus.

Omnicron

Origin: Botswana & Africa - November 2021

Viral Characteristics: more transmissible than Delta, severity undefined, breakthrough infection possible even with vaccination

New Omnicron strains: Eris (2023), Pirola (2023)

Delta

Beta

Alpha

 

Future Implications of COVID-19 🔮

Although majority of the population is now vaccinated against COVID-19, there are continuous surges of different variants. Mask wearing is continuously encouraged in public spaces, and it is important to maintain thorough and regular handwashing. It is important to remain updated on all released boosters and practice social distancing whenever possible.


A person on public transport listening to music and wearing a mask over her mouth and nose
 
The content editor in front of  a lilac background

Edited by: Olivia Laughton | Content Editor | Microbiology BSc, University of Leeds


 
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aijaz ali khushik
aijaz ali khushik
Nov 20, 2023

As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, COVID-19, also known as the novel coronavirus, had a significant global impact. However, I don't have the ability to provide real-time updates on the current situation. Therefore, I recommend referring to reputable sources such as the World Health Organization (WHO) or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the most up-to-date information on COVID-19.


At that time, COVID-19 was primarily transmitted through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, talks, or breathes heavily. Common symptoms included fever, cough, sore throat, fatigue, body aches, loss of taste or smell, and difficulty breathing. It's important to note that some individuals may be asymptomatic or experience mild symptoms, while others may develop…


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Guest
Oct 28, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Very informative. Great work...Keep it up Aaditi!

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Guest
Oct 28, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Excellent

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Guest
Oct 27, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Nice job Aaditi. Keep going

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Guest
Oct 27, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Great and informative read. Thanks!

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