The remarkable efforts to fight the Coronavirus

The entire world is fighting the coronavirus in an effort to find some kind of solution that will take us out of the situation we find ourselves in.

This article examines the current global efforts, and examines what they mean for our future.

I don’t need to explain how bad the coronavirus is, how it’s decimating our economies and how our lives may be changed forever.

You get enough of that from the daily news.

What we don’t get in the news is a careful examination of what the scientific community is looking at, and why these things matter.

You can read my initial in-depth look at the coronavirus and how I predicted life would change.

That’s why I wanted to put this article together. I wanted to see what advances should give us hope. I also wanted to see what you and I can do in the meantime.

This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (yellow) isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells (blue/pink) cultured in the lab. Image credit: NIAID.

Caveat #1: I do not have a medical background, so question everything I say.

Caveat #2: This list is not meant to be exhaustive. Keep yourself informed through reputable news sources.

Scientific advances

Here’s what we already know:

  • Children can catch the virus too. They won’t exhibit symptoms, and an absolute minority have died of it. But they are carriers, and they can infect you.
  • Obese people require hospitalisation twice as often as non-obese people. It is clear that being overweight is a critical factor which affects how your body reacts to the virus.
  • Men get symptoms – and die – of the coronavirus more than women do because of an enzyme in their lungs.
  • The amount of selenium in your diet will affect the way you recover from the coronavirus. Selenium is found in fish, meat and cereals.

Here’s what we’re looking for:

  • Scientists are examining whether traces of the virus exist in sewage. If this is the case, governments will be able to detect outbreaks even if people don’t have symptoms. They’ll test our sewage, instead of running expensive tests on people.
  • There is a human antibody that can neutralise the coronavirus. So far this has been seen in a laboratory under artificial conditions. We need to test this scenario, and then test it in humans before we can celebrate.
  • There are tests that can detect if you have antibodies. We don’t know if you will be immune to the virus in the future or not but we do need to be able to test for this in a quick and cheap manner.
  • Scientists are examining whether a side effect of existing vaccines may also protect against the coronavirus. If so, we don’t need to wait for a 1- or 2- year process to create a new vaccine.
  • Some patients suffer a run-away immune overreaction, known as a cytokine storm. Being able to reboot a patient’s immune reaction will help, but we’re still trying to understand why this happens and how to reverse it.
Waste water and sewage can be tested to detect more outbreaks
  • Researchers are collaborating across multiple disciplines – bioinformatics, genomics, vaccinology and virology – to better understand the virus and share results with each other. We cannot afford to work independently when faced with such a threat.
  • There is a genetic variation in humans that affects how susceptible to the virus you are. If scientists identify what this is and how to test for it, we can prioritise vaccines or treatment for people who are more at risk.

What can you do?

  1. Pay attention to whatever medical information and guidance you’re receiving. They’re doctors, they know what they’re talking about.
  2. If you’re a man you’re more at risk. Pay extra attention, keep washing your hands often and disinfect potentially contaminated surfaces regularly.
  3. If you’re obese or overweight, put in the time to lose that extra weight. ‘Obese’ and ‘overweight’ are specific medical terms referring to your Body-Mass Index. Here’s how you can calculate it, and what the numbers mean. (I’ve looked at my numbers and, as of time of writing, I’m overweight and need to lose more than 10 kilos.)
  4. Make small changes to your diet to increase the amount of selenium you’re getting. Snack on brazil nuts and cashews, and choose fish over other types of meat when you can. Here’s a list of selenium rich foods and how much you should be getting.
  1. Be careful around children because they are carriers. Yes, this means there will be many sad grandparents. But a live grandparent is better than a dead one.

Above all: Stay safe | Take care | Keep well.

References

  1. Children as likely as adults to catch coronavirus, says ONS; Kat Lay; The Times of London; 2020-05-14
  2. Boris Johnson to launch war on fat after coronavirus scare; Steven Swinford; The Times of London; 2020-05-15
  3. Circulating plasma concentrations of angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 in men and women with heart failure and effects of renin–angiotensin–aldosterone inhibitors; Iziah E Sama et al; European Heart Journal; 2020-05-14
  4. Association between regional selenium status and reported outcome of COVID-19 cases in China; Jinsong Zhang et al; American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; 2020-04-28
  5. Czech researchers testing wastewater for new coronavirus; Ruth Fraňková; Radio Prague International; 2020-05-07
  6. A human monoclonal antibody blocking SARS-CoV-2 infection; Chunyan Wang et al; Nature communications; 2020-05-04
  7. Rapid and Sensitive Detection of anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG, Using Lanthanide-Doped Nanoparticles-Based Lateral Flow Immunoassay; Zhenhua Chen et al; ACS Publications; 2020-04-23
  8. Could COVID-19 Pandemic Be Controlled Using Existing Vaccines Like MMR or BCG?; Sci-News.com; 2020-04-23
  9. QTY code-designed water-soluble Fc-fusion cytokine receptors bind to their respective ligands; Shilei Hao et al; Cambridge University Press; 2020-04-09
  10. Supporting pandemic response using genomics and bioinformatics: a case study on the emergent SARS‐CoV‐2 outbreak; Denis C Bauer et al; Wiley Online Library; 2020-04-19
  11. Genetic Variability in Immune System May Affect Susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2; Sci-News.com; 2020-04-20

All references were valid and correct when this article was published. Changes to referenced websites or web pages may render some references invalid. If this is the case, please leave a comment below.


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