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SARS, MERS, CoV-19 - An Overview

Updated: Oct 6, 2020

As you all are well aware of, as of January 2020 , a new coronavirus has been discovered. SARS-CoV-2, also known as COVID-19. A new addition to the coronavirus family that was first discovered in the 1960s. You may have heard of its other two older siblings MERS and SARS but what exactly are coronaviruses? How do they act? And what makes them so dangerous? Here is everything you need to know about this viral concoction of evilness that has turned our lives upside down .

What is a Coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are zootropic ( they are transmitted from animals to humans) viruses that cause diseases in both humans and animals. They are most often found in camels, cats and bats. The term coronavirus comes from their crown formation with spikes. It is well known for its large positive-sense RNA genome that can contain up to 32 kilobases. Allow me to simplify, the virus likes to mutate and it is highly contagious. That being their secret power and the reason it is so hard for scientists to develop a stable cure. There are seven coronaviruses that affect people and another 40 that only affect animals.

Credits: CGF

Understanding SARS,MERS and CoV-19

So to better understand our new enemy first we have to look at the other two coronaviruses that wreaked havoc a few years ago.

To start off, SARS comes from the horseshoe bats and it stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. The first cases were registered in the southern province of China, Guangdong in 2002. The SARS epidemic affected 26 countries. In the beginning it was thought to be just an atypical pneumonia transmitted in hospitals,WHO later on issued an emergency travel advisory due to a SARS epidemic on the 15th of March. There were a total of 8,439 recorded cases with 812 deaths. The mortality rate was estimated to be around 9.6% and people with previous health conditions were the major risk groups. The symptoms are nothing out of the ordinary and very common , a cough, fever and diarrhea making the virus hard to pinpoint. The SARS epidemic was officially declared contained on the 5th of June 2003. Fast forwarding to September 2012 when health officials reported the discovery of MERS, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. Here we go again. MERS-CoV was directly linked to the Arabian Peninsula and it was transmitted to humans from camels. With similar symptoms to SARS most patients developed severe respiratory illness and 3 out of 10 people infected died. Unlike SARS, MERS-CoV affected everyone from children to adults and elderly. Like other coronaviruses MERS spreads from one infected person through coughing and sneezing. Cases are still being reported to this day and recorded by the WHO officials. No vaccine or treatment has been discovered yet. Now this brings us up to date, January 2020. COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, coronavirus, whatever you want to call it. Yet again a viral pneumonia that broke out in Wuhan, China. Spreading globally at an alarming rate and sending our normal lives down a whirlpool. There are a lot of conspiracy theories regarding the true origin of COVID-19, however, scientists have two plausible scenarios that they have shared with the public. 1: there has been a natural selection in the animal host before transferring to the human host. 2: a natural selection on humans after the zoonotic transfer. Yes, the new coronavirus comes from bats. Big shocker. Currently there are 81.576 cases of coronavirus worldwide and 297K deaths , the numbers are still rising day by day. Similarly to SARS, COVID-19 affects the elderly and the people who had previous health conditions are again the major risk group. What makes it even more dangerous is the rate at which it’s spreading and its ability to mutate. The complexity of the genome still baffles scientists and new data is recorded daily. The symptoms are identical to those of a common cold but can lead to illnesses such as pneumonia and bronchitis. There is no treatment or vaccine. What can we do?

Stay inside and stay safe. The main reason for this major lockdown is to stop the spread of the virus and try to contain it as much as possible. Doctors and scientists are working around the clock to come up with a cure but right now all we can do is wait and go on it’s our lives as we normally would. Our team here at The Nest has tried to come up with ways you could use this extra time to your advantage. With movies, books, workout and other fun ideas.

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