Because Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Corona Virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and the illnesses it creates Corona Virus Disease 19 (COVID-19) are new to humans, there are many unanswered questions even among the medical/health professionals as to its spread and impact within our communities. As a result, in January of 2020, 94 academic journals, societies, institutes, and companies signed a commitment to making research and data on the disease freely available.  Unfortunately, too many local and national on-line and in-print news agencies have not felt the need to follow suit, leaving the average person less informed than they should be about this new viral pneumonia and it’s potential impacts on our lives.

While reading through recent public journal articles on COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2, I decided to compile and share information (with links) that, to the best of my understanding, explain the what and how of this virus and disease (part 1) and what each of us can do to help limit its spread (part 2).

Why SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 should be taken seriously: (mostly from JAMA 2/28/20)

  • This is a new viral respiratory infection and illness for humans (it originated in animals).
  • Humans do not have natural antibodies to defend against it.
  • Has an epidemic doubling time of about a week. (JAMA 3/3/20)
  • No vaccines against SARS-CoV2 are currently available.
  • Development and testing for a safe and effective vaccine will require 12-18 months.
  • Current therapies are limited and rely primarily on supportive care and oxygen supplementation.
  • Current diagnostic testing is [grossly] inadequate.  (The Atlantic 3/6/20)
  • Highest risk population are health care workers and those who are sick, elderly, or have weakened immune system, heart disease, lung disease or diabetes.

Characteristics: (mostly from JAMA 2/28/20)

  • Incubation period: Range from 1-14 days; possible up to 24 days; average 5-6 days.
  • transmission:  Spreads easily.  Primarily through droplets or smear infections from a person coughing, sneezing or talking.  Virus is also found in stools and blood (though transmission not yet confirmed).   Possible spread through asymptomatic (having no symptoms) and mildly symptomatic individuals.
  • Disease spectrum: Produces a range of illness; most patient have mild illness.  Approximately 16% of infected individuals require intensive care & 10% require mechanical ventilation.
  • Case-fatality rate: 1% to 2% of infected population.   *(annual flu epidemic has CFR of .06% — about 290,000 to 650,000 respiratory deaths worldwide – WEF 1/31/20 )
  • Reproductive number (Ro): 2 – 3 (these are secondary cases produced by a single affected person).

Symptoms:

COVID-19 Symptoms (JAMA 2/28/20)

  • Fever
  • Dry cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Muscle aches
  • Fatigue
  • Phlegm buildup
  • Headache
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea

Cold Symptoms (Health 3/4/20)

  • Sneezing
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Coughing
  • Post-nasal drip
  • Watery eyes

Flu Symptoms (LiveScience 3/6/20)

  • Sudden onset
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle aches
  • Headaches
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

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2 thoughts on “COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2 (part 1) — Fast Facts”

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