Questions on COVID-19

What is the use of a mask for protection against coronavirus?
As per WHO advisory, a mask is recommended only for health workers who are deployed in hospitals and similar facilities and directly handling COVID-19 patients. Many people and agencies are insisting on a mask for all people. But there is a reason for that which we shall explore at the end of the article.

Why is everybody asked to stay home?
India is in Second Stage of COVID-19 outbreak. This means that we are able to track cases of travellers who have come back possibly infected from foreign countries. Stage three means people get infected locally. This will cause the virus to infect large number of people. So the spread of the virus has to be contained in Stage Two.

Why is virus infection happening to only humans and not birds or animals?
Virus have been around for hundreds of years. It came along with life forms on earth. Virus infects all life forms, even bacteria. Crops also get virus. In few cases virus mutate to form a new virus. In other cases virus jumps from animals to humans. In case of HIV virus, it is believed that the virus came from the wild animals consumed as bush meat in Africa. And then it started infecting humans. SARS-CoV-2 virus which causes coronavirus disease is also believed to come from wild bats.

If virus has been there for so long, why are scientists not been able to develop a medicine?
There are two ways to address a virus in human body. If the virus has already entered the body then you have to wait for the virus to run its course and the body to fight off the infection. Otherwise a vaccination is the most effective way to prevent a virus from doing damage in the body. In case of a new virus such as SARS-CoV-2, the only thing the world needs is a vaccine. It takes years to develop a vaccine. Some virus like in case of HIV, scientists have not been able to discover a vaccine for last 40 years!

If so many advisories are given by govt and doctors, why are people not listening?
Universal rule works in the ratio of 50-50. If you have 100 people known to you, roughly 50 of them won’t like you. In the same way, if govt gives advisory, around half the people will not follow it. There might be many reasons, some would not be in a position to follow the advisory, some who voted against the govt will have inherent hatred for govt policies. India is a huge nation and a large population.

Above answers explained in detail

Viruses has been on earth since hundreds of years. When a virus enters the body, it enters cells of any organ of your body. There it starts multiplying and affecting the healthy cells. For some humans with a better immune system, the virus is thrown out of the body without them even coming to know. In majority of the cases, the body’s defense mechanism automatically raises the temperature of the body to fight off the virus.

In case of COVID-19, there are many people who are infected with the SARS-CoV-2. but show no symptoms. But they are still the carriers of the virus. It is in their blood, logged in their respiratory tract. It will come out through mouth and nose. If an infected person sneezes, there is a chance that the virus will spread in the air and affect people in the immediate vicinity. That is why it is necessary to practice social distancing in public places.

The virus mainly spreads by touch. An infected person leaves traces of virus of public places like lift buttons or door knobs. Virus can remain alive on surfaces for a few hours. If an uninfected person touches such a surface, the virus sticks to the fingers. But at this point the person is still safe. Because till the time the person does not touch the nose or mouth, the virus cannot enter the body. In a day, we touch our faces 300 to 400 times. For these reasons there are precautions as follows.

  • Wash hands after you come from outside with soap and water.
  • If outside, use alcohol based hand sanitizer.
  • Keep social distance of atleast one meter from others.
  • Avoid crowded places
  • If you are having symptoms, please get checked immediately.

Vaccination for SARS-CoV-2 is being worked on by top pharma companies of the world. But the task is not easy because it is such a sub microscopic being. To understand how the body reacts and how antibodies are generated in body. First there will the data followed by clinical trials. But success in getting a vaccine is either a hit or miss. Hence the only option is stay in lock down to break the chain of transmission and maintain social distance.

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