Introduction: The COVID-19 pandemic has spread worldwide in a short span of time with over 24 million cases to date[1]. However, in tandem with the viral outbreak, there has been progress done both, on scientific research and on the government policies set in place to manage the situation. On the other hand, there are also many so-called ‘facts’ about the coronavirus circulating around various medias. This is especially true in social media, and the more this misinformation continues to be shared, the more confusion and lack of trust in authentic sources will arise. 

We must therefore do our best to properly research topics such as these, in order to be able to protect ourselves and others the correct way. This article aims to answer the most frequently asked questions regarding the coronavirus.

Accurate 3D model of the coronavirus adapted from [2].

What is COVID-19? – COVID-19 is a disease that is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). It is not the first coronavirus to have been discovered, as it belongs to a group of other coronaviruses which also cause respiratory diseases in mammals and even birds [3].

Where did the virus come from? – Contrary to popular belief, there is no evidence to suggest that the virus was ‘man-made’ for the purpose of being a bioweapon nor is it true that coronavirus is spread through 5G. There have always been new diseases that have emerged throughout history. This include two other types of coronavirus (SARS and MERS) that have emerged in the past two decades. These have shown to come from bats. This is also the case for this particular type of coronavirus. The wet market in Wuhan, China is believed to be the main cause of the spread before the pandemic [4]. However, current evidence of its exact origin is inconclusive.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19? Possible symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, headache, and labored breathing. A range of symptoms can be attributed to the virus, from mild flu-like symptoms to pneumonia (but this varies between different cases) [4]. In many cases there are no symptoms, so great care should always be taken to maintain the common practices of preventing the spread. So far, the disease is estimated to have caused around 820,000 deaths worldwide. Conversely, of the 24 million cases, 16 million have recovered [1]. That being said, if you feel like you have a flu it is highly recommended that you self-isolate for 2 weeks, particularly if you live with people who may be prone to the disease, such as the elderly or those with a weak/suppressed immune system.

How long does it take to recover from the disease? In mild cases, the recovery time can take around two weeks. Therefore, anyone who lives with you should also self-isolate for the same amount of time. In more severe cases, it can take between 3 to 6 weeks [5].

Illustration of the positive effect less frequent contact with others has on the spread of the virus adapted from [6].

How does the virus spread? The transmission of the disease is believed to mainly occur through respiratory droplets, which are released through coughing and sneezing. This is why rules about wearing face masks, in addition to social distancing, should be taken seriously. The virus can also spread through contact with surfaces contaminated with the virus, which is why frequent cleaning of the hands while avoiding touching your face is advised [3].

Can the virus be transmitted in hot or humid climates? Although infections, such as influenza, decline over periods of summer, there is not yet enough evidence to support whether or not this is true for the new coronavirus. This is because diseases can vary with seasons, depending on either temperature or human behavior or neither. 

Is there a remedy for the disease? To date, there is no definite cure, however it can be treated for symptoms. For example, any aches can simply be treated with painkillers such as paracetamol like in other flus unless your doctor advises against it.

COPYRIGHT: This article is the property of We Speak Science, a non-profit institution co-founded by Dr. Detina Zalli and Dr. Argita Zalli. The article is written by Albin Shaqiri, Queen Mary University of London, UK.

References:

  1. Coronavirus Update (Live): 24,279,766 Cases and 827,816 Deaths from COVID-19 Virus Pandemic – Worldometer [Internet]. Worldometers.info. 2020 [cited 26 August 2020]. Available from: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/
  2. Coronavirus: World’s most scientifically accurate 3D model revealed [Internet]. Wiley Analytical Science. 2020 [cited 27 August 2020]. Available from: https://analyticalscience.wiley.com/do/10.1002/was.00020069
  3. Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) – Symptoms and causes [Internet]. Mayo Clinic. 2020 [cited 26 August 2020]. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/symptoms-causes/syc-20479963
  4. Gao Q, Hu Y, Dai Z, Xiao F, Wang J, Wu J. The Epidemiological Characteristics of 2019 Novel Coronavirus Diseases (COVID-19) in Jingmen, China. SSRN Electronic Journal. 2020;.  
  5. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) – Symptoms [Internet]. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2020 [cited 26 August 2020]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html
  6. COVID-19 [Internet]. Signer Laboratory. 2020 [cited 26 August 2020]. Available from: https://robertsigner.wordpress.com/coronavirus/