2,006,513 have tested positive. At least 128,886 have died. These are the worldwide statistics measuring those affected by coronavirus, and these numbers will likely have risen by the time you read this post. It’s not a hoax, it’s not an over exaggeration, it’s an international health crisis.
Map of COVID-19 infected countries and territories as of 15 April 2020.
Image from Wikimedia Commons
Now termed a pandemic, coronavirus is a viral disease spread through saliva or mucus from the nose when an infected person sneezes or coughs (WHO). Coronavirus can also be spread among infected people who are within six feet of others (CDC). The current form of coronavirus responsible for this pandemic is COVID-19. Currently, there is no vaccine or cure for COVID-19. Many researchers, including Dr. Chuan He of the University of Chicago, are racing to find a cure by studying the virus on a technical, biological level. Dr. He claims that messenger RNA takes an active role in viruses and is directly responsible for cell function and modification processes that regulate how a virus can hijack neighboring cells and contribute to the spread of the virus (UChicago). Many scientists at private industries as well have joined the effort to create an effective vaccine for coronavirus, with some companies, such as Moderna Therapeutics, on a trajectory to create a cure in a little over a year, an extremely quick turnaround time in the context of pharmaceuticals (Time). Researchers of Moderna Therapeutics plan to test three different dosages of the vaccine in 45 healthy volunteers in the coming year.
Pressure increases on scrambling scientists as coronavirus’ effects reach further into other parts of society. With businesses closing and stocks plummeting, the economy is taking a hard hit. Chief U.S. economist at Oxford Economics Greg Daco claims a recession is inevitable and “we’ve never experienced something like this” (New York Times). Many families grapple with upcoming economic recession especially in the face of layoffs and added costs of grocery and medical bills. The closing of schools and daycares leaves many students lacking meals during the day. While many better equipped districts are offering lunches, there are still thousands of children across the country in need of food. Such dire circumstances must be remembered when we begin to complain of prom or concerts being cancelled, as many people are facing much harsher consequences as a result of this pandemic.
As scientists and doctors devote every waking hour to helping treat and ultimately prevent the spread of coronavirus, we must remember we play an important role too. While people with pre-existing conditions and the elderly are at the greatest risk of contracting this virus, younger people, such us ourselves, are critical in flattening the curve. This term describes efforts to “stagger the number of new cases over a longer period, so that people have better access to care” (CNBC). New practices including social distancing and “shelter in place” place have been implemented in attempts to flatten the curve.
Image from Wikimedia Commons
Social distancing aims specifically at limiting social interactions in an attempt to stop person-person passing of the virus. The success of social distancing relies on young people’s buy in. Young people who show no symptoms can still be carriers of the virus, meaning they can pass the virus onto others without even realizing it. So, when that party invite pops up on your snap, think about your friends, your parents, and even your neighbors next door and make the safe choice.