Since its occurrence in 2019, the coronavirus has come with many scientific terms & abbreviations starting from WHO to Countries around the world
What are the various key terms associated with Coronavirus?
- Its a term coined by the World Health Organization (WHO) to denote the disease that has led to a pandemic.
- On February 11, 2020, WHO announced a name for the mysterious disease originating in China, caused by a new coronavirus.
- It called it coronavirus disease 2019, abbreviated as COVID-19, where CO stands for corona, VI for virus, and D for disease, while the numerals – 19 refer to the year in which the first case was detected.
- The International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) announced “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)” as the name of the new virus, also on February 11, 2020.
- This name was chosen because the virus is genetically related to the coronavirus responsible for the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak of 2003.
- While related, the two viruses are different. WHO and the ICTV were in communication about the naming of both the virus and the disease.
|The International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV)
- This term is used when the incidence of a disease rises above the expected level in a particular community or geographic area.
- The outbreak started in Wuhan city in Hubei province in China, with what seemed then as a cluster of pneumonia-like cases.
Pandemic: A global epidemic
- When the epidemic spreads over several countries or continents, it is termed a pandemic.
- On January 30, WHO announced that COVID-19 was a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
- On March 11, WHO decided to announce COVID-19 as a pandemic.
- It is the basic reproduction number.
- This is the number of new infections caused by one infected individual in an entirely susceptible population.
- Ro helps determine whether an epidemic can occur, the rate of growth of the epidemic, the size of the epidemic and the level of effort needed to control the infection.
- If R0 is 2, then one individual will infect two others. As of end May, India’s R0 value was in the range of 1.22.
- Comorbidity describes the effect of all other conditions an individual patient might have other than the primary condition of interest, and can be physiological or psychological.
- Several health conditions including uncontrolled diabetes and hypertension, cancer, morbid obesity, lung diseases, compromised immune systems put patients at greater risk for contracting the infection, and also have poor clinical outcomes.
- Special attention to prevent the disease and prevent mortality in these groups is the concern of health managers.
- Transmission is the method by which the disease spreads.
- In COVID-19 it is through respiratory droplets, expelled while talking, laughing, coughing and sneezing.
- This makes mask wearing and physical distancing the main tools for protection against the virus.
- Washing hands with soap and water is an effective way to kill the virus.
- Community transmission is when there is no clear source of origin of the infection in a new community.
- It happens when you can no longer identify who became infected after being exposed to someone who interacted with people from the other infected communities.
- As numbers climb, this tracing becomes next to impossible.
- It is identifying and monitoring people who may have come into contact with an infectious person.
- In the case of COVID-19, monitoring usually involves self-quarantine as an effort to control the spread of disease.
- Super spreaders are individuals who seem to have the capacity to cause more infections in a disproportionately large number of people, than others.
- The current pandemic has recorded some super spreaders who have had a huge role in the transmission.
- It is the percentage of people who test positive among all those who are tested.
- If the positivity rate is high, it is possible that only high risk groups are being tested.
- A low positivity rate can also indicate that not enough testing is being done.
Infection fatality rate
- It is the number of deaths occurring in all infected people in a particular population.
- This includes those who might have the COVID-19 infection, but have not been tested for it.
- Given that the number of tests is not high, experts have clarified that this is not a useful metric to have in this pandemic.
Case fatality rate
- It is the number of deaths occurring among confirmed cases of COVID-19.
- Since these two figures are available with a certain amount of reliability, it is actually CFR that is being referred to when there is a loose reference to fatality rate.
Severe Acute Respiratory Infection (SARI)
- Acute respiratory infection is an infection that may interfere with normal breathing. It can affect just your upper respiratory system, which starts at your sinuses and ends at your vocal chords, or just your lower respiratory system, which starts at your vocal chords and ends at your lungs.
- A respiratory disease also caused by a coronavirus, and spread through the same transmission method, i.e. respiratory droplets.
- The symptoms (fever, cough, body ache, difficulty in breathing) are also similar.
- The government has begun surveillance of SARI patients as also patients with Influenza-like Illness (ILI) admitted in hospitals too.
- An immune reaction triggered by the body to fight an infection is known as a cytokine storm when it turns severe.
- The body releases too many cytokines, proteins that are involved in immunomodulation, into the blood too quickly.
- While normally they regulate immune responses, in this case they cause harm and can even cause death.
- Experts have noticed a violent cytokine storm in several individuals who are critical with COVID infection.
- These cytokines dilate blood vessels, increase the temperature and heartbeat, besides throwing bloodclots in the system, and suppressing oxygen utilisation.
- If the cytokine flow is high and continues without cessation, the body’s own immune response will lead to hypoxia, insufficient oxygen to the body, multi-organ failure and death.
- Experts say it is not the virus that kills; rather, the cytokine storm.
- It is an antimalarial oral drug that is being repurposed for treatment in COVID-19.
- It has also been used successfully in the treatment of some autoimmune conditions.
- Its value in COVID-19 has not been resolved entirely.
Flattening the curve
- Reducing the number of new COVID-19 cases, day on day.
- The idea of flattening the curve is to ensure that the health infrastructure is not overwhelmed by a large number of cases.
- Herd immunity’, also known as ‘population immunity’, is a concept used for vaccination, in which a population can be protected from a certain virus if a threshold of vaccination is reached.
- Herd immunity is achieved by protecting people from a virus, not by exposing them to it.
- This is also known as community immunity, and constitutes the reduction in risk of infection within a population, often because of previous exposure to the virus or vaccination.
PPE — Personal protective equipment
PPE is specialised clothing and equipment used as a safeguard against health hazards including exposure to the disease.
Tests & treatments associated with COVID-19
RT- PCR (Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction)
- It is the primary test to detect COVID-19 infection across the globe.
- It is a sensitive test that uses swab samples drawn from the nasal/oral cavity to test for the presence of viral RNA (ribonucleic acid).
- It has got better sensitivity (ability to correctly identify those with the disease) and specificity (ability to correctly identify those without the disease) rates in current diagnostic tests for COVID.
- These tests check your blood by looking for antibodies, and that just means you have had a past infection of SARS-CoV-2.
- Antibodies are proteins that help fight off infections, and are specific to every disease, granting immunity against getting that particular disease again.
- An antibody test, with poor specificity, is not believed to be effective in detecting new infections.
- States have been asked to commence testing seroprevalence in the community, using antibody tests, that are blood tests.
Convalescent plasma therapy
Researchers are examining the efficacy of using convalescent plasma, that is, using neutralising antibodies from the blood of people who have recovered from the COVID-19 infection to treat patients with COVID-19.