What is Coronavirus, Symptoms, and Treatment? Hey, guys, I’m Siobhan a third-year medical resident you’ve probably heard lots of bits of information about coronavirus. Some of its true, but some of it is so misleading. So in this video, we’re going through a summary sticking with the facts about what you need to know about COVID-19
What is coronavirus COVID-19?
Coronavirus is a whole family of viruses that have little spikes on the surface that look like a crown, which is how it got its name.
You’ve probably heard of other types of coronavirus. There was the sars coronavirus and the outbreak was in 2002. There was the MERS coronavirus, with an outbreak in 2012. And there are actually a lot of other types of coronavirus, but they don’t know special names and they just cause the common cold.
The virus we’re dealing with is called SARS-COV-2 and the disease that it causes is coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19 for short.
Where did the virus come from?
Bats are a natural reservoir for many viruses, so the virus can actually replicate inside the bat without making it sick, and then the bat passes it on to other animals and then finally that gets passed on to humans.
That is what happened in Wuhan, China. After the first person was infected the virus got passed from person to person to person by people coughing and sneezing.
Did you know that in just one cough it can spray 3000 droplets that can go all over the place? If you get smacked in the face by someone’s coughs, you can get a direct transmission of the virus.
How long does it stay on surfaces?
If it lands in the air, the virus can land on a particle and stay floating there for up to three hours. If it goes on to a box, the cardboard box can last there for about 24 hours, if it goes on to plastic it can be there for two to three days.
What happens inside your body?
So let’s say you get in touch with the virus and then you rub your face and then you get infected. What happens next? When the virus enters the body, it uses those proteins on its surface, the ones that look like a crown, to get into our cells.
Those proteins are like a key that unlocks receptors on the outside of the cell. We believe that it’s specifically the ace-2 receptor on our lungs that coronavirus is using to get inside our cells.
Once the virus is inside, it then releases RNA, its genetic material, and it tricks your cells into making copies of the virus. So your cells actually become like a factory producing thousands of viruses without even realizing it.
So at the beginning when the virus is replicating, you don’t have any symptoms yet. And this is called the incubation period.
It’s different for lots of different viruses, but in the case of sars COV-2, we think that the incubation period is four days.
Four days where you’ve been infected and you don’t have symptoms yet. As the virus was spreading.
The spread of the virus in China
Doctors in China started seeing more and more pneumonia and one doctor, in particular, dr. Lee wen Liang became concerned when he saw seven viral illnesses that reminded him of the sars outbreak in 2002.
He immediately started telling his colleagues that he was concerned, but four days later the authorities told him to stop spreading false comments.
But the number of cases continued to grow and on January 9th china’s central television officially announced that there was a new coronavirus.
At this point, there were at least 50 people with pneumonia and the first fatality, a 61-year-old man passed away.
To complicate things Wuhan was a major hub for travel in China and it was less than two weeks away from Chinese new year’s when there’s lots of travel and this huge celebration.
By January 23rd Wuhan was officially in quarantine. Nobody in or out of the city at all.
Unfortunately, 20 people had already passed away from the virus. It seemed like every day we were hearing about new cases of SARS-COV-2 in different countries. It was sweeping the world and the world health organization labeled this outbreak a pandemic.
Symptoms of Coronavirus
What kind of symptoms are people presenting with? So we’re lucky that we’ve got information coming out of China to know what to prepare for and what to expect.
The most common symptoms are fever, sore throat, cough, some shortness of breath.
And we look at fever people who are coming into the hospital, only about 43 percent of them had a fever. When they were in the hospital about 88 percent of them developed a fever.
So what that tells me is that if you don’t have a fever, it doesn’t guarantee that you don’t have coronavirus.
Less common symptoms are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea in about three to five percent of people. So that’s what you need to watch out for fever, cough, shortness of breath. I know what you’re gonna say, but that sounds like the flu, that sounds like a cold and you’re right and that’s what makes this so tricky.
What should you do if you develop symptoms?
If you do get mild symptoms, cough, fever sore throat… what you should do is stay at home, don’t panic and pick the phone and call your health care provider, rather than going and sitting in waiting rooms and public transportation and spreading that virus everywhere.
If you are quarantining yourself at home while you’re sick but you live with other people, try to have
Like a sick room. And in that room you try to stay there most the time, you have your dishes and utensils, try to use your bathroom if you have that option. Just to prevent the other people in your house from getting sick.
The most important thing is to be monitoring your symptoms and seeing if anything is getting worse.
If you’re getting short of breath, if you’re getting chest pain that’s not going away or if you find you’re getting high fevers, you’re getting confused or even having a blue-tinged lip.
All of that would be signs that things becoming quite severe and you should be going to the emergency department.
Okay, I just want to say this one more time. For most of us if we get COVID-19 we’re going to be okay. Don’t panic, most of us can recover at home. We never need to even see a doctor or go to a hospital and you’ll be just fine. We just have to watch out for those severe symptoms.
Unfortunately, some patients do become critically ill, so let’s talk about that.
What’s happening? What they develop is something called acute respiratory distress syndrome or ards.
Yes and this is a condition where the lungs develop so much inflammation and damage, that it becomes difficult to get oxygen out of the air through the lungs and into the red blood cells.
There are lots of things that cause ards, things like sepsis or pneumonia, even pancreatitis. So in the ICU, we’re familiar with how to treat these patients.
What you do is they often require intubation. So a tube down the throat, lots of oxygen. Sometimes you need to paralyze and sedate a patient, even flip them over onto their stomach so that you can expand the lungs without injuring them and get more oxygen into the back of the lungs.
It’s an involved process as you can imagine and if that all doesn’t work, then you can consider using extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. Ecmo bit of a mouthful. And it’s like a machine that works like lungs outside the body. So the idea is blood gets pumped out of the body, the machine puts oxygen into it and then the blood comes back into the body.
It’s similar to a heart-lung bypass that they use in cardiac surgery.
Who is at risk?
Who’s at risk for catching COVID-19. Well, the answer is everyone. It doesn’t matter what age you are, you can catch coronavirus. What we see is the people who are most severely affected are the elderly and those who have underlying health conditions like heart disease, lung disease, immunosuppression, diabetes. Those people go on to get a worse version of the disease.
To put some real numbers on that in China about 78% of cases where people aged 30 to 69 and of those people about 20% of them had severe illness. So it’s not just the elderly that are affected, but they are the ones who tend to have higher fatality rates.
In the US we’ve seen that 8 out of 10 people that have passed away are over the age of 65 and in even higher proportion if you’re over the age of 85.
How can we stop the spread?
Although we know was at risk, we don’t know who is going to become critically ill and need life support. So we all must do our part to stop the spread of this virus.
I’m sure that you’ve seen these diagrams all over social media right now, everyone talking about flattening the curve. So the idea is that we want to slow the spread of the virus, but not everyone becomes sick at the same time. That way it doesn’t overwhelm the hospital system, it gives us more time to come up with treatment and vaccinations.
Here’s an example. Let’s just imagine that people got on their minds that they all needed to buy toilet paper all at once. So as you guys are probably seen, there’s no more toilet paper. You can’t find it anywhere and some people are left with no toilet paper. It’s a disaster.
The same thing is true for a hospital bed and ventilator machines. We just want to make sure that people use them up slowly. And that means there’ll be enough for everyone and that it’s not all used up at once. But I still hear people saying like, you know if we’re all gonna get the virus, why don’t we just let it happen?
The whole answer is that this happened in the past. You’ve seen this play out in the Spanish flu in 1918. So if we look to history, we can see that Philadelphia took two weeks to put their social distancing plan in place. And we see this huge spike of deaths and fatalities that happened as opposed to st. Louis that put these measures in place right off the bat and you can see that they had this nice flat curve. That is what we’re aiming for.
That’s why we’re working so hard to get social distancing in place now. For this to work, for us to
Save lives, we need to all be in this together and there are two main things that we need to do.
1 washing your hands,
Well and frequently. So that means 20 seconds of washing your hands, a long time by the way. It’s about a happy birthday some twice. Make sure you get your fingernails. Make sure you get between those fingers and the backs of your hands.
2 social distancing,
So there’s been a lot of talk about this. This is six feet between you and anyone else or two meters, but it doesn’t mean isolating yourself. So make sure that you’re reaching out to friends, family. We have this wonderful technology. You are not alone and don’t let yourself get isolated.
I know that it’s a huge strain on families. I know that there’s a lot of financial demand and I just want to say thank you because what everyone is sacrificing is at a community level helping in saving lives and it’s inspirational to hear these stories.
Should you be wearing a mask when you go outside?
The world health organization says that if you are healthy and you’ve no symptoms, you don’t need to be wearing a mask. It’s only people who have symptoms, cough, cold, fever. They should wear a mask or a health care provider who’s looking after someone who has COVID should have a mask on as well.
Personally, when I go outside, I’m not wearing a mask. I do wear a pair of thin gloves that I put on so that if I am touching doorknobs, then it doesn’t get on my hands and it reminds me not to touch my face as well because I’m pretty bad about that. Otherwise, I just come home and scrub my hands well.
Treatments and vaccines
Treatments as of now there are no antivirals that I’ve been proven to treat COVID-19. There are lots of other trials going on around the world and I’m hopeful that we are going to come up with some great treatment options in the future.
What about a vaccine?
Scientists are working tirelessly to come up with a new vaccine. And progress has been fast because china early on was able to sequence the genes within the virus and they shared that with everyone internationally so that we can come up with a vaccine quickly.
From what I understand there’s one in china and there’s one in the US that is gonna be starting testing. But even with this fast progress, we’re still looking at close to a year before they’re gonna be able to distribute it to everyone.
Okay? We have covered a lot of material the most important thing at this point is each of us playing our parts. Washing our hands, keeping social distancing to stop the spread, slow it down and flatten that curve. So we don’t overwhelm the healthcare system.
I know this is such a difficult time. There’s so much uncertainty and things are changing so quickly. And yet every day I look around and I see remarkable things. I see students who are bringing elderly people groceries so that they don’t need to leave the house. I have seen a local distillery that stopped making gin and instead of meeting hand sanitizer that they’re giving it for free.
Now I’ve seen countless health care workers who are picking up extra shifts to relieve their co-workers who are getting quarantined. So I know… I know in my heart that we can get through this together in the coming weeks. I’m gonna be bringing you into the hospital and showing you what it’s like to be working in the hospital as a doctor during this pandemic.
Information is constantly changing updates are happening on an hourly basis. So I’m gonna leave some links below to great websites that you can trust for accurate information.
For now let’s each play our part wash your hands, stay home, stay strong and I’ll be seeing guys in the next time.
Bye for now