Is the coronavirus alive? Scientists have argued for years over whether viruses are alive at all. Most agree that viruses are mystifying and life itself is extremely complicated. And whether or not we think the virus that causes Covid-19 is alive or lifeless, we can all agree that we want this pandemic to end.
Everyone on Earth looks forward to the day we can say the coronavirus is dead, passed on, expired, gone to meet its maker, deceased, pushing up the daisies, has kicked the bucket, become an ex-coronavirus and been eradicated once and for all. Until then, stay safe and know the facts.
Identified in 2019 in China, Covid-19 quickly spread around the world during 2020. Spreading along with it: confusion, rumors and fear. Scientists and public health experts scrambled to confront it with 21st century therapies and vaccines. Meanwhile, governments closed schools, businesses and borders. Even today much about this virus remains unclear.
The name Covid-19 stands for coronavirus and disease. Corona is for its crown-like protein spikes. The virus itself is named SARS-CoV-2. Coronaviruses are zoonotic, jumping from animals to humans. Many originate in bats. SARS was transmitted by civets, MERS by camels, and Covid-19 likely by animals sold in wildlife food markets.
Covid-19 spreads from person-to-person through respiratory droplets. Compared to the seasonal flu, Covid-19 is more contagious and has a higher fatality rate. People are most contagious when showing signs of sickness, yet the virus can spread before symptoms occur. Symptoms may appear 2 to 14 days after exposure and can include loss of smell, fever, cough and shortness of breath. Some have no symptoms at all. The best way to prevent illness is to minimize exposure with common-sense measures. Avoid close contact with sick people. Do not touch your eyes, nose and mouth. Stay home when sick. Cover your cough and sneeze with a tissue. Wash your hands with soap and water. Wear a face mask to help protect yourself, protect others and slow the spread of this mysterious microbe.
Microbes are remarkable and mostly good - vital to our bodies and our planet. However, when it comes to the struggle against flu, measles, black death, malaria and other infectious diseases such as Covid-19, it is human wits versus microbe genes. If we want to triumph, we must think clearly, learn, prepare and respect the microbial world.