5 Common Questions About COVID-19
31 March, 2020
5 Common Questions About COVID-19
Even though the respiratory disease COVID-19 has been known to the world for months, there are still unanswered questions left.

1) How, exactly, does Covid-19 spread?

Why has it spread so fast? The best explanation for this rapid spread is that the virus is being passed through droplets from coughing or sneezing. When these virus-laden droplets from an infected person reach the nose, eyes, or mouth of another, they can transmit the disease. It’s possible that the virus can spread
through feces. There are also uncertainties over how long the virus can linger in the air after a person coughs or sneezes.
You may have heard that the new coronavirus isn’t “airborne” — meaning that unlike extremely contagious diseases like measles, it’s unlikely to linger in the air for hours on end. But that doesn’t mean the virus can’t linger in the air for some amount of time. It will definitely be in the air in the moments after an infected person sneezes or coughs, but it’s unclear when the particles eventually come to rest on the ground (or surrounding surfaces).

2) Can people become reinfected? And, if so, after how long?

Another huge unknown: Can people become reinfected with Covid-19 after they’ve had it? There are some reports of people in China and Japan testing positive after recovering from the infection. Though, to be clear, it’s unknown whether those people were truly reinfected or still just had low levels of the virus in their systems after they felt better.
Right now, there’s limited research on the question of reinfection in humans. It’s just too early.

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3) How deadly, exactly, is Covid-19?

Knowing the true number of infections that exist around the globe will help researchers determine another crucial metric about Covid-19: its case fatality rate, meaning how deadly it is. Right now, it’s looking like some countries have higher death rates for Covid-19 than others. These rates also keep changing. Now, the estimated death rate for Wuhan, China — the city where the outbreak began — is 1.4 percent, per a new study in Nature Medicine. In late February, the World Health Organization estimated the rate in Wuhan was 5.8 percent. South Korea, on the other hand, was estimated to have a death rate of less than 1 percent. Italy’s seems to be, for now, several percentage points higher. It’s also the case that the fatality rate can change over time.

4) Is it seasonal?

For a variety of reasons, some viruses — but not all — become less transmissible as temperatures and humidity rise in the summer months. The viruses themselves may not live as long on surfaces in these conditions. The droplets that transmit the virus also may not spread as far in humid air. Also, human behavior changes, and we spend less time in confined spaces. There are actually two important questions here. The first: Will Covid-19 show seasonal effects? The second: Will those seasonal effects make a meaningful difference in slowing down the spread of the pandemic?
The answer to the first question, right now, is maybe.
The researches say that we just can not rely on the weather alone to take care of the outbreak, pointing to warmer and more humid climates.

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5) When will it end? And how? Will it become endemic?

As we learn more about this disease, our approach to fighting it will become more precise. We may be able to find a balance between protecting the vulnerable and letting our economy and society function again. But for now, we have to confront the possibility that this virus will disrupt life for a long while.
“I think this idea … that if you close schools and shut restaurants for a couple of weeks, you solve the problem and get back to normal life — that’s not what’s going to happen,” says Adam Kucharski, an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and author of The Rules of Contagion, a book on how outbreaks spread. “The main message that isn’t getting across to a lot of people is just how long we might be in this for.”
But given the scientists have only known about this virus for a few short months, it is actually quite remarkable how much they have learned.
The learning won’t stop. And because of that, hopefully, the spread of this pandemic someday will.

First photo by David Tabagari

Source: VOX

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