COVID-19: ONE ENEMY, DIFFERENT NAMES

Ever since the first case of COVID was reported in China in November 2019, life has not been the same. The disease is caused by SARS-COV-2 virus, which belongs to the large family of SARS virus that mainly causes respiratory illness. It has been over a year, and the world’s scientists are yet to find its origin. However, studies have been conducted worldwide, and they reveal that it is predominantly a bat virus that somehow reached humans.

Structurally, it is an enveloped virus, and its primary genetic material is RNA. A long, single RNA polymer is tightly packed at the center surrounded by the capsid made up of nucleocapsid protein. It is further surrounded by an envelope made up of lipid and inserted protein. A vital set of the protein in the outer membrane is known as Spike protein (S). This spike protein is recognized by the receptor on the host cell.

As the virus transmits through the air, it infects a large number of people very rapidly. The infected individual shows symptoms like fever, chills, cough, headache, body pain, sore throat, loss of smell and taste, vomiting, and diarrhea. In addition, it is found that the severity of the disease varies across different age groups, and the mortality rate is higher for people who have diabetes, are obese, or have coronary disease.

As the virus is of RNA nature, it mutates very rapidly, and many variants have been found across the globe.

Variants of Concern

    : For these variants clear evidence is available indicating a significant impact on transmissibility and severity.
Variants First detected
B.1.1.7 United Kingdom
B.1.351 South Africa
B.1.427 United States-(California)
B.1.429 United States-(California)
P.1 Japan/Brazil
B.1.617.2 India
  1. Variants of Interest: For these variants genetic evidence is available but these are preliminary.
Variants First detected
B.1.525 United Kingdom/Nigeria – December 2020
B.1.526 United States (New York) – November 2020
B.1.526.1 United States (New York) – October 2020
B.1.617 India – February 2021
B.1.617.1 India – December 2020
B.1.617.2 India – December 2020
B.1.617.3 India – October 2020
P.2 Brazil – April 2020

Currently, there are four different kinds of Vaccines for COVID-19, available worldwide.

  • Vaccine made from virus vector: COVISHIELD, OXFORD ASTRAZENCA vaccine, and Sputnik-V.
  • Vaccine made from Nucleic acid (RNA) – Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and Moderna vaccine.
  • Whole virus Vaccine (weekend virus used as immunogens) – COVAXINE from Bharat Biotech and SINOVAX from China.
  • Vaccine made of protein Subunit of virus – NOVAX (Under development).

Treatment strategy keeps changing as new variants are causing even more severe effects on patients; and also because no medicine has been developed to fight against the virus in the human body. During the first phase, HCQ and plasma therapy were used to treat serious patients but now both have been dismissed. In the second phase, serious patients were treated with drugs which contain steroid, to control cytotoxin storm in. Some of the drugs used were: Dexamethasone; anticoagulant (as most corona patients suffer from blood clotting and cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death among positive patients); paracetamol, multivitamins, and zinc.

We cannot kill the virus altogether, but we can prevent it from spreading by taking the necessary precautions such as sanitizing, washing our hands frequently, practicing social distancing, and most importantly, getting vaccinated.

Author


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Shubham Rajput

A research associate with strong analytical skills and a writer.

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