The global impact of COVID-19 pandemic
Until recently, most people will never have heard of corona-viruses. But they, and the diseases they cause humans and animals, have been recognized for over 50 years.
Discovery of corona-viruses
Avian infectious bronchitis was first described in newborn chicks in 1931. it was shown to be due to a virus in 1937 by Fred Beaudette and Charles Hudson, from the New jersey Agricultural Experiment Station. The avian bronchitis virus was also cultivated by Cunningham and Stuart in 1947.
In 1965, the virologist David Tyrrell, Director of the Medical Research Council’s Common Cold Research Unit at Harnham Down near Salisbury in Wiltshire, and his colleague Mark Bynoe published a paper in the British Medical Journal, in which the described a virus, which they called B814, and identified it as a cause of the common cold. They tried to characterize other viruses, but without much success, and thought that viruses of which they found evidence were rhinoviruses.
On 1 April 1967 Tyrell, this time with his colleague June Almeida, from the Department of Medical Microbiology in London’s St Thomas’s Hospital Medical School, identified three uncharacterized respiratory viruses, of which two had not previously been associated with human diseases. They reported that two of the viruses, 229E and B814, of which they published electron micro-graphs, were indistinguishable from the particles of avian infectious bronchitis.
Then Almeida and Tyrell, with six other colleagues, reported in Nature in 1968 that there was a group of viruses that caused not only avian bronchitis but also murine hepatitis and upper respiratory tract diseases in humans.
The virus of avian infectious bronchitis is classified as gamma corona-virus, while most of the corona-viruses that infect humans are beta corona viruses. The human corona-virus HCoV-229E described by Almeida and Tyrell is an alpha corona virus.
Global impact of COVID-19
There are over 13.1 M confirmed cases of corona-virus across the globe.
According to official reports, the largest numbers of confirmed cases are in the United State, Italy, Spain, and France. However, even the countries that the new corona-virus has hit less aggressively are still under considerable strain.
At the moment, many countries have taken measures some of them stringent to slow down the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes corona-virus While some of these countries are now considering whether to ease the measures, others have already decided to keep them in place over the following weeks.
Many countries have declared restrictive measures, such as lock down, shelter in place, or stay at home orders, to contain pandemic at a local level. However, the wildly differing responses and response timelines have left people wondering if authorities failed to take the situation seriously early on when they could have done more to slow down the spread of the corona-virus.
China appeared to manage the corona-virus outbreak effectively, putting in place early travel bans within the country itself. As early as January 23, Chinese authorities declared a nationwide travel ban, which, some experts suggest, may have averted over 700,000 corona-virus cases within the country.
Earlier in April, China eased the lock down measures in Wuhan, the original epicenter of the new corona-virus outbreak, amid celebrations that the nation had beaten the virus.
Given the development of the situation in China, many people have been questioning the appropriateness of measures that other countries around the world have taken.
Earlier in April, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared a state of emergency. This allowed the authorities to ask people at home, through the government has not enforced closures or restrictions.
This state of emergency should remain in place until early May, though the steady number of corona-virus cases has reportedly moved doctors in Japan to warn of an impending breakdown in their health care system.
Some European countries have reacted sooner to the steep rise in corona-virus cases than others. On March 10, Italy ordered a strict nationwide lock down, becoming the first country in Europe to do so.
The government banned all travel in the country, and people could only leave their homes for essential reasons such as to buy food. When going out, people had to carry declaration forms and wear face masks and disposable gloves.
Despite a slowdown in the growth of new corona-virus cases, the Italian government has recently extended lock down measures through May 3.
Spain, another one of the European countries hit badly by the corona virus, also announced strict lock down measures from March 14.
Although there have been over 208,000 confirmed corona-virus cases in the country to date, Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced that Spain reached the peak of the pandemic in early April.
The Spanish government appears to share such worries and is considering easing these measures in May, despite criticism that it is still unclear how the pandemic may progress in the country.
“Stay home stay safe”