Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus
What is coronavirus and what is its literal meaning?
The literal meaning of corona in Latin is “Crown”. Respiratory syndrome coronavirus are a group of viruses covered in little protein spikes that look like a “crown”.
Over the past two decades, coronaviruses (CoVs) have been associated with multiple disease outbreaks in the Eastern part of Asia and the Middle East area.
- SARS: Severe acute respiratory syndrome (2002)
- MERS: Middle East respiratory syndromes (2012)
What is respiratory syndrome coronavirus and What coronavirus means?
To begin with, there are hundreds of known corona viruses. Seven of them infect humans, and can cause disease. Of the seven human corona viruses, four cause colds, mild, highly contagious infections of the nose and throat. Two infect the lungs, and cause much more severe illnesses.
A novel coronavirus, the “Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)”, causing the “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)”, has emerged in late 2019, which has posed a global health threat with its on-going pandemic in many countries and territories.
- The novel coronavirus that was first identified in Hubei Province of Wuhan City, China on 12 Dec 2019.
- “COVID-19” is the name designated by WHO to the disease.
- A new virus SARS-CoV-2 was found to be associated with COVID-19.
The initial group of patients was found to be connected with a Seafood Market in Wuhan.
Family name -“Coronaviridae”
The members of this novel coronavirus family are known to infect a broad range of hosts, producing symptoms and diseases ranging from a common cold to severe and ultimately fatal illnesses such as SARS, MERS, and, presently COVID-19.
The SARS-CoV-2 (formerly 2019-nCoV) is considered as one of the seven members of the CoV family. The virus that infects human beings belongs to the lineage of CoVs that causes SARS.
However, this SARS-CoV-2 virus is genetically distinct. Until 2020, six CoVs were known to infect humans:
- SARS-CoV-2 causing (COVID-19)
Though SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV have resulted in outbreaks with high mortality, others remain associated with mild upper-respiratory tract illnesses.
When an infected person coughs, droplets containing the virus spray out. The virus can infect a new person when the droplets enter their nose or mouth. The novel coronavirus transmit best in enclosed spaces, where people are close together.
Newly evolved CoVs are thus posing a significant threat to global public health. Over the past two decades, the current emergence of COVID-19 is the third CoV outbreak in humans.
Scientist predicted potential SARS- or MERS-like CoV outbreaks in China following pathogen transmission from bats.
As predicted COVID-19 emerged in China, spread rapidly throughout the country, and subsequently to other countries.
Cold weather keeps their delicate casing from drying out, enabling the virus to survive for longer between hosts, while UV exposure from sunlight may damage it.
These seasonal variations matter more for established viruses. But because no one is yet immune to a new virus, it has so many potential hosts that it doesn’t need ideal conditions to spread.
In the body, the protein spikes embedding the host’s cells and fuse with them, enabling the virus to hijack the host cell’s machinery to replicate its own genes.
Based on the severity of the outbreak, the WHO declared a “global health emergency” on January 31st, 2020. Subsequently, On 11 Mar 2020, a pandemic situation was declared.
Presently, as this is a new virus, we are not in a position to effectively treat COVID-19. Still, we don’t know how long our body will remain immune to this respiratory syndrome coronavirus.
We don’t have any treatment or vaccine or drug for human CoV infections.
Most nations are currently making efforts to prevent further spreading of this potentially deadly virus by implementing preventive and control strategies.
As we continue to encroach on other animals’ habitats, some scientists say a new corona virus jumping to humans is inevitable—but if we investigate these unknowns, it doesn’t have to be devastating.