Seeing through the mist of myths of Coronavirus

coronavirus 2020_

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. DongGyun Ko, a second year medical student from Hallym University College of Medicine, Republic of Korea. 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.


From SARS to the 2019-nCoV, Coronavirus (CoV) has arisen as a new vanguard to human safety. It seems like we have returned to the time of comforting plague in Europe 700 years ago. Many are afraid and thus blindly believing uncertain information about the crisis. So, will we perish from these miniatures?

Main fear towards the virus stays with the misperception that there is no direct “cure”, as if we are facing the deadliest super virus that can kill a person with just a droplet. This originates from confusing bacteria and virus, and how our body overcomes them. The former is a living organism, and the latter is only alive within its host cell. Both require our immune system to eradicate the intruder, but the difference lays on how to do so. Wiping out the former demands to kill the organism, and antibiotics are effective, for it enacts by detecting non-human metabolism. Because the latter disguises its life inside the host cell, the medication to directly killing it does not exist; autophaging the infected host cell is the sole way. Though vaccines may temporally be effective, mutation of viral RNA escapes the treatment. Our approach instead focused on limiting its spread along with symptomatic therapy. It’s a race between our immune system and the virus: normally healthy person will probably win the race.

The real bottom line is first protecting the immunosuppressants such as elders, overly exhausted workers or children. The emphasis should be put to decreasing the virus concentration among the population. For the goal, personal level actions are recommended to include lessening virus transmission by wearing a mask or protection glasses and washing hands than following unevidenced instructions as eating garlic. Masks not only avoid direct contact with the virus but also reduce the spread of virus from the wearer. Washing hands also lowers virus transfers between humans. Avoiding crowded spaces and voluntarily taking a screening examination with detailed epidemiological records would also help for lowering the possibility of accidental massive virus transmission to many as a social level measure.

What is not to be neglected is to stop valuing people related to the situation. To be infected does not allow indignity. Being a same race with main infectants also does not grant to be called as human virus. The despair of the virus can easily mislead to individual, social and racial hatred. Facts are morally neutral, and human survival weighs heavier than empty contentions. Clear information about the situation and the disease must be shared quickly as possible, and necessary actions from personal to international levels should be achieved decisively. Social unity and cooperation must be maintained politically and economically. Constant supports for researchers and clinicians are also significant.

Cold mists of fear and anxiety engulfed the countries. Envisaging the core and doing what we can will only lead to the least bad. With promises to keep the addressed points, answer to the beginning question is: We will find a way. We always have.

References

  1. Medical Microbiology 8th edition, Murray, Rosenthal, Pfaller
  2. Novel coronavirus(2019-nCoV), WHO, https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
  3. Emerging respiratory viruses, including nCoV: methods for detection, prevention, response and control, OpenWHO, https://openwho.org/courses/introduction-to-ncov
  4. Coronavirus : Bill Gates ciblé par des rumeurs et infox complotistes, Le Monde, https://www.lemonde.fr/les-decodeurs/article/2020/02/05/coronavirus-bill-gates-cible-par-des-rumeurs-et-infox-complotistes_6028482_4355770.html
  5. The First Randomized, Controlled Clinical Trial of Mask Use in Households to Prevent Respiratory Virus Transmission, C.R. Macintyre et al, 2008
  6. 신종 코로나바이러스 치료에 ‘마늘’이 좋다? 거짓 정보 난무, Doctor’s News, http://www.doctorsnews.co.kr/news/articleView.html?idxno=133146
  7. 의협, “정부 코로나바이러스 방역 골든타임 놓치고 있다.”, Doctor’s News, http://www.doctorsnews.co.kr/news/articleView.html?idxno=133160&fbclid=IwAR0XYwf_oC-o_UM59qztND4BwWTkpamtAqu5BC2rmsvUY7kkzXFdGvRfaqQ
  8. Coronavirus: French Asians hit back at racism with ‘I’m not a virus’, BBC, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-51294305

About the author

DongGyun Ko is a second year medical student from Hallym University College of Medicine, Republic of Korea. He has been working in KMSA (Korean Medical Student Association) as a member of the department of international affairs, department of capacity building, and now National Exchange Officer. Full of love to public health issues, he has been a part of student-centered global health project MIGHTy, and participated in innovate4AMR 2019. Also has been an active IFMSA member to represent Korea in two of General Assemblies and attended TNT session in Morocamp 2.

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