Let’s start with calling a spade a spade: Covid-19, the disease caused by a new strain of coronavirus is now officially a pandemic as announced by the World Health Organisation, and it is scary. It's the first time the WHO has called an outbreak a pandemic since the H1N1 "swine flu" in 2009 and reportedly this viral disease has swept into at least 114 countries and killed more than 4,000 people since the outbreak began in the fall of 2019.
Pandemic means sustained and continuous transmission of the disease, simultaneously in more than three different geographical regions. Pandemic does not refer to the lethality of a virus but to its transmissibility and geographical extension.
What we certainly have is a pandemic of fear. The entire planet's media is gripped by coronavirus. It is right that there is deep concern and mass planning for worst-case scenarios since currently there is no vaccine or preventative treatment for it. It is, therefore, understandable that people would be frightened. But let’s take a look at the situation from a different perspective: in the US alone, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 20,000 to 52,000 people have died from the common flu since October. And while older people and those with pre-existing respiratory conditions have cause for concern, a large majority of people who get coronavirus develop mild symptoms they can treat at home. Some will have no symptoms at all. And yet the world economy is crashing with global market losing trillions, people losing salary and jobs, and yet most of us are busy hoarding face masks and hand sanitisers.
So, why are we so afraid of coronavirus? The answer is a mix of limited knowledge and emotional impairment of our perception of risk. While at large we, as a society, are put into a hyper-vigilant state caused by the half-cooked non-stop media cycle surrounding the outbreak. In the case of Covid-19, assessing risk is especially thorny because our objective knowledge of the disease is still evolving. It would be wrong to say there is good news coming out of COVID-19, but there are causes for optimism; reasons to think there may be ways to contain and defeat the virus. Let’s take a look at a few of them:
. We know what it is The first cases of AIDS were described in June 1981 and it took more than two years to identify the virus (HIV) causing the disease. With COVID-19, the first cases of severe pneumonia were reported in China on December 31, 2019 and by January 7 the virus had already been identified. The genome was available on day 10. We already know that it is a new coronavirus from group 2B, of the same family as SARS, which we have called SARSCoV2. The disease is called COVID-19. It is thought to be related to coronavirus from bats. 2. We know how to detect the virus Since January 13, a test to detect the virus has been available. Link to the test by WHO: https://bit.ly/338Mhx9
3. More people are recovered than sick According to the global research, out of 107, 500 cases 61,500 people have recovered from the coronavirus as of March 8. More than half of the people have recovered from the nasty outbreak. For several weeks now, the number of cases diagnosed every day is decreasing. A very detailed epidemiological follow-up is being carried out across countries; outbreaks are very specific to areas, which can allow them to be controlled more easily. 4. 80% of cases are mild The disease causes no symptoms or is mild in 81% of cases. Of course, in 14% it can cause severe pneumonia and in 5% it can become critical or even fatal. It is still unclear what the death rate may be. But it could be lower than some estimates so far. 5. The virus can be wiped clean The virus can be effectively inactivated from surfaces with a solution of ethanol (62-71% alcohol), hydrogen peroxide (0.5% hydrogen peroxide) or sodium hypochlorite (0.1% bleach), in just one minute. Frequent hand washing with soap and water is the most effective way to avoid contagion. According to research, every day around the world approximately 1900 people die from mosquito bites, snakes kill around 350 people per day, and 1300 people get killed by other humans. Since we do not let ourselves panic because of these numbers, it is imperative that we do not let ourselves panic by Covid-19 because the need of the hour is to find the positive in every negative. Above all, health experts say it’s crucial not to let panic take over our decision-making and rational thought processes. Otherwise, the price to pay could be much greater than the threat the virus poses.