This content was current as of the date it was released. In science and medicine, information is constantly changing and may become out-of-date as new data emerge.
This Did You Know will focus on background science of the virus and its historic epidemiology. See our COVID-19 pages for more on the present pandemic.
- Some argue that a virus is not a true life-form as it cannot reproduce without the help of another organism that it must first invade.
- Coronavirus is named for the spikes that protrude from their surfaces, resembling a crown or perhaps the sun’s corona. These spikes help attach the virus to its target cell and then hijack its reproductive capacity.
- All coronaviruses are made up of a fatty shell that protects the RNA inside, which contains the viral genetic code to reproduce. Plain soap disrupts the viral shell and can kill the viruses.
- Coronavirus infect many different species and can jump from one specie to another.
- There are 4 or more coronaviruses that can cause the common cold.
- In 2003, the world first encountered SARS or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome caused by the coronavirus called SARS-CoV. This also started in China. The virus was contained by 2004 but not until it hadinfected over 8,000 and killed 774.
- Another coronavirus disease is Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, which was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012. It is another severe respiratory infection with a very high mortality rate, with more than 1/3 of those infected dying. It is still sporadically present. It is believed that MERS jumped from camels to humans.
- SARS-CoV-2 is the new virus that causes the disease COVID-19 first seen in Wuhan, China in late 2019 and is causing the present pandemic.
- Appropriate and stringent population intervention can save lives and “flatten the curve”. See graph below:
- Public interventions are focused on social distancing that includes quarantining and isolation, disinfecting public spaces and limiting travel and large gatherings where there can be close contact with many others.
- Personal interventions to lower risk of becoming infected include handwashing for at least 20 seconds, not touching our faces, avoiding handshakes and hugs, covering our coughs, and all the public interventions above.
Originally published in The CLL Society Tribune Q1 2020.