Coronaviruses: the truth against the myths

coronavirusses

(CDC, Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Faithfulness, a 2nd year Medical student at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun state, Nigeria. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


The outbreak of a new type of coronavirus in the city of Wuhan, capital of central Hubei province in China has raised a lot of public health concerns across the world. Government of different countries are trying to ensure that their citizens are informed on what to do to prevent themselves and others around them. But how do we separate the facts from the myths? What do we know about coronaviruses?

Coronaviruses belong to a large family of viruses that causes illness that range from the common cold to severe respiratory diseases. They were first identified in the 1960s and were named ‘corona’ because of their crown-like shape.

Coronaviruses can be transmitted between animals and humans, causing a variety of diseases. Some of the diseases caused by these group of viruses in humans include the 2019-nCoV Acute Respiratory Diseases (ARD), Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). Other human coronaviruses include 229E, NL63 and HKU1. The SARS-CoV outbreak occurred between 2002- 2003 in Guangdong province of China, with approximately 8098 reported cases and 774 deaths. The MERS-CoV outbreak which was responsible for the series of highly pathogenic respiratory tract infection in Saudi Arabia occurred in 2012. MERS-CoV is still monitored globally to understand the risk of the virus, how it spreads, and how to prevent infection.

31st December, 2019, 2019-nCoV which is responsible for ‘2019-nCoV Acute Respiratory Disease (ARD)’ outbreak was reported to WHO. Globally, 11,953 cases have been confirmed and 259 deaths reported. Based on available data, the likelihood of transmission of 2019-nCoV is through contact with a symptomatic infected person. Currently, 2019-nCoV ARD is a public health emergency of international concern due to the global outbreak of the disease outside of China.

Myths

  • It is believed that coronavirus is a new type of virus. Coronavirus is not a new TYPE of virus but a Virus that belongs to a bigger family of virus. 2019-nCoV is a type of Coronavirus.
  • Some think that Coronavirus diseases can be treated with Antibiotics. Viral infections cannot be treated with antibiotics because antibiotics are meant for bacterial infections. Therefore, 2019-nCoV cannot be treated with antibiotics although people infected with 2019-nCoV can be given antibiotics in case of a bacterial co-infection.
  • Some believe that only a certain group of people can get infected by Coronavirus. This is not true as people of all ages can get infected by any type of coronavirus. Older people and those with an underlying illness are more susceptible to 2019-nCoV or any type of coronavirus.
  • Since coronaviruses are zoonotic, there are concerns that household pets might be infected by 2019-nCoV. Although there is no evidence to prove this, it is recommended that everyone protect themselves through hand hygiene to prevent the transmission of common bacteria (e.g. E.coli) from

WHO recommends proper hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene and safe food practices as ways by which we can prevent ourselves and others from contracting the virus.

About the author

Miss Faithfulness holds a first degree in Biochemistry (first-class honors) from the Federal University of Technology, Akure in 2018. She is currently a 2nd year Medical student at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun state, Nigeria.

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Comments

  1. You got this from a medical student????? The first written myth is distracting, if not misleading.

    • continued response: In the period prior to December 29, 2019 Chinese scientists were not able to identify an emerging disease as those caused from an virus (Prof. Jun Zheng, Southeast University (SEU), Nanjing, China.) At the end of December 2019, the Chinese finally managed to identify as an new type of virus. Again, as an new. A further determination then learned them that the new virus had an behavior similar to SARS/CoV and CoV-MERS. They gave the virus the name “2019 novel coronavirus” but appeared later as causing confusion. That’s were the current name SARS/CoV-2 comes from. But, COVID-19 is NOT an virus but the name of the disease and refers to the year when the DISEASE started to emerged. .

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