Covid-19 : A great disruptor

This is for the beautiful people who think the coronaviral disease (Covid-19) pandemic is the wrath of God. No, it is not so. The God actually loves you. The Covid-19 is not because of your sins. Internet is full of people who want to assign caste, region and religion to the virus. But the Covid-19 seems to belong to no caste, region, or religion. There is ample evidence for that, as it has affected people of all castes, regions and religions. It also has affected sacred places of all religions. Maybe it is a spiritual, I don’t know.

Then what is it? It is a virus that has been there for centuries. Other members of this virus family have been infecting humans for centuries. The infection is usually milder and just give rise to common cold symptoms only. Thanks to our immune system, the virus is cleared by local immunity of the respiratory tract.

Why is Covid-19 so severe? All flu viruses undergo mutations over time. Microbiologists will know it better (antigenic drift and shift). These changes (mutations) are random. This explains why we get flu many times and why flu vaccine is to be repeated every year. Most often the change is small, not causing much harm. Sometimes, the change is major. This change is such that the virus changes its properties. This change makes it more infective and more severe. This happens every few decades. That is why we had regular flu epidemics (Remember SARS 2002 in China and MERS 2012 in Saudi Arabia). If you are expert in microbiology, you can even predict next epidemic.

You can visualize the virus having keys on surface (surface protein projections). These keys change due to mutations. Sometimes, in decades, the change is such that the key on surface is exactly the key that open the lock on our lung cells. In reference to Covid-19, the lock on our lung cells is called ACE2. When the Covid-19 surface protein (key) opens the lung cell lock (ACE2), it enters the cell, captures it and replicates inside making many new viruses. The cell bursts and releases millions of new viruses. That is why when a person is infected, it releases so many new viruses. Because we get coughing and sneezing, we distribute it further and new people get infected. Here comes the use of cough and sneezing etiquettes for prevention of spread of infection.

This happens in all flues. But our immune system fights back and localizes the invasion and ultimately wins the battle. Only a few susceptible individuals get serious illness and very few dies. In case of Covid-19, because it has acquired new properties due to mutations, our immune system is not ready for the attack. The ability to infect other persons of this virus is high.

However, the advancement of science is amazing. In previous centuries, people were not knowing why they were dying in large numbers. They had no idea what was to be done. They attributed everything to the wrath of God. Plague used to be the ultimate wrath of God. People used to abandon their loved ones for dying in agony. This was rightly so, because there were no treatment and people knew nothing about its transmission. It was all anger of God/gods. When plague was discovered to be caused by a bacterium, called Yersinia pestis and was discovered to be transmitted by fleas. The future epidemics were controlled. We have only isolated cases here and there for many decades now.

In December, 2019, when Wuhan hospital observed atypical pneumonia cases. They immediately identified the virus. Within a few weeks, the virus was isolated and its properties studied. This week, Roche company made rapid test for Covid-19 available, which has a capacity to perform 400,000 tests per week. Yesterday, first human trial of vaccine against Covid-19 was initiated in Seattle, USA.

Do you die with coronaviral disease? No, the probability is extremely low. If you are a healthy individual and follow scientific precautions, your chances of getting infection is very low. Even if you get the infection, there are 90% chances that you would get a mild disease and recover. People who suffer from other chronic diseases, where immune system is compromised, may develop pneumonia. Most of them will also recover by a medical treatment. A very few will die.

If you are a healthy individual, your chance of dying by Covid-19 is less than your chance of dying while crossing a heavy traffic road carelessly. If you want to make this probability still less, all you have to do is to follow scientific instructions as given by authorities. Your authorities don’t tell you to abandon your loved ones and run away, as was norm in the middle ages during an epidemic. They tell you to be at home with your loved ones. Wash hands with soap and water. No sanitizer or costly equipment is needed. They tell you not to touch your face often. And they tell you when you get the infection, observe cough/sneezing etiquettes and social distancing.

So, free yourself from rumors, relax at home, relish food and chill. And don’t forget to observe scientific precautions.