Coronavirus: the truth against the myths

virus coronavirus

(CDC, Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Kevouy Richard Reid, a first year medical officer at a type B medical facility in St
Catherine, Jamaica. He 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 2019 novel coronavirus is a betacoronavirus first identified in Wuhan city, Hubei Province in China. The virus was initially linked to a live animal and seafood market with zoonotic transmission assumed to be the primary mode of inheritance. There has since been suspected human to human transmission of the virus between patients and healthcare providers. Like other well known coronaviruses, 2019-nCov is believed to have its reservoir in bats.

The virus primarily insults  the respiratory system with symptoms ranging from a mild upper respiratory tract infection to severe respiratory compromise and need for ventilatory support..Currently, the dense air of global hysteria and panic which exists is largely embedded in misinformation sensationalized through social media platforms, unsubstantiated xenophobia and a slow response of international public health agencies in educating and alleviating the fears of the general public.

Firstly in a recent 2019 retrospective single centre case series published by Wang et al the case fatality rate for 2019-nCov was estimated at 4.3%. This essentially means that in excess of 95% of patients who contract 2019-nCov should make a full recovery. When compared to its predecessors SARS and MERS with fatality rates of 9.6% and 34.4% respectively, this new betacoronavirus is not the most fatal viral outbreak to hit mankind in recent times. The study also goes on to show that 34.1% of the patients involved in the study were discharged, 61.6% remained hospitalized with 26% of those patients requiring ICU care at the time of publishing.

The data from the above mentioned study further highlights that the patients requiring ICU care once admitted were usually older with pre-existing comorbidities which already predisposed them to a poor outcome. The 6 patients which died in the study were all patients admitted to the ICU. The small sample size of the study, lack of uniform treatment administered to patients and varied patient profile limits the extent to which the outcomes can be extrapolated to the world at large.

Like most viral respiratory tract infections there is no specific treatment for 2019n-Cov. The course of the disease is self limiting in nature with treatment being largely supportive than curative. Containment of the the spread of the infection lies in early recognition and isolation of suspected patients, appropriate and timely use of personal protective equipment by healthcare providers, rapid administration of meticulous supportive care and the dissemination of clear, concise and factual information across a single universal medium to the general public.

The prevailing view by key public health stakeholders is that there is aggressive limitation of the spread of the virus to other countries until a vaccine can likely be engineered thus preventing the world from plunging into a pandemic.

Reference

Wang, D. et al (2020, February 07). Clinical Characteristics of 138 Hospitalized Patients With 2019 Novel Coronavirus–Infected Pneumonia in Wuhan, China. Retrieved February 08, 2020, from, https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2761044

About the author

Kevouy Richard Reid is a first year medical officer at a type B medical facility in St
Catherine, Jamaica. He’s an future aspiring cardiologist with a passion for public health,
advocacy, student led government and volunteerism. His life resolve is that all things can be achieved once hard work, commitment and passion lie at the center. He’s an author, scholar, youth enthusiast, physician and family oriented individual. He’s a fervent advocate of mental health that in his spare time enjoys swimming, travelling, doing yoga, taking photographs, watching plays and going to the beach.

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