(Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or medical professional; This is not medical advice or scientific fact; the following article is simply my personal findings on studying Covid-19 via the Internet. The following article is not intended for anything more than a personal opinion piece.)
Greetings Students, I’m Covid- Nope, That’s Not Right…
Let me start again-
Nope- this isn’t gonna-
… The elephant in the room it is.
It’s ravaging the world- and our toilet paper aisles.
I’m not trying to make jokes about a dire situation. But then again, what else do you expect when it’s been days since I last left the house (I really meant to go for a walk today- where did the day go?).
Let’s just skip to today’s Lesson Outline:
-Introductions Are In Place
-Understanding Viruses, Bacteria, & Diseases
-Getting To Know Coronaviruses
-R0 (Basic Reproductive Number) & “Flattening The Curve”
-Herd Immunity Investigated
My name is
Lawrence Matheson, but you can call me Law. No, I don’t mean that in a cocky way. What else are you gonna call a “Lawrence?” And I swear to god if you say, Larry, I’ll slap your mouth like the clown you remind me of.
Law it is.
I originally meant to spend the remainder of this blog introducing myself. However, while I have time to spend on blogging (finally!), people are dying of SARS-CoV-2, and history is passing before our eyes.
The title of this blog
is “Amateur Historian.” I want to explain that I am no different than you, Student. I do not have a degree in history (although I have a B.S. in Religion- let that sink in). I did not grow up in privilege or have the ability to go to an Ivy League. Nor do I have some fancy title or certificate that makes me stand out.
I am an average (fairly well-traveled), gay, male, American, 29 years old on the cusp of 30. My yearning is that I love to ask questions. I have a curiosity that tends to kill. “Curiosity killed the cat.” I always hear. I respond with my motto- the remainder of the rhyme- “Satisfaction brought ’em back.”
I tend to be sassy-
and maybe a bit aggressive. I’m Aries, after all. I was born on April 1st. No, no joke! My guess is, though, that you don’t mind sassy. With Covid-19 choking out the air, and bull shit information from our government tainting the rest of our oxygen- time to play nice is over.
Initially, I was going to introduce myself in my second blog. Then I wrote up a 3 part series on Covid-19 for blogs 2, 3, and 4. Soon I was juggling 12 blog posts just for the remainder of March- let alone April.
While plotting out my blog posts, I heard the news coming in about Bayer donating 3 million malaria tablets (FiercePharma.com)- Bayers stocks are on the comeback! (For those of you not familiar with Bayer AG stocks- their shares have NOT been doing well. Like, history of the company shit show poor).
From that point on, the Covid-19 virus had many aspects to consider and angles to look at (lest the information ends up like that in “1984”- destroyed and forgotten).
“1984” is a book by George Orwell, written in 1948 (published in 1949) about a dystopian world of the future. We will study ‘Dystopian Societies’ in future blogs- for now think of “The Hunger Games” By Suzanne Collins.
Let’s get to class then.
Coronavirus and Covid-19 are trending phrases right now, but if you are like me, you have many more questions than you have had answers. I don’t do well with unanswered questions- so I dug into it all myself, the following is what I found:
Setting The Foundation:
For those of you
that were also homeschooled or just didn’t give a shit during Chemistry (wait- these are biology terms- I knew that…)- let’s go over a few things first to make sure we are on the same page. If you already know what I am about to say, skip ahead. I gave you Today’s Lesson Outline- you can work at your own pace, ya know.
I don’t always have the ability (or the time- just being honest) to include varied learning styles in my research- but I try to as much as possible. You’re in luck Student, this is one of those times.
For Visual/Audio Learners, here is- “Virus Vs. Bacteria: Symptoms and Treatment” by Dr. Emily Bowman
Alright, for fellow bookies or Students that prefer to learn by Reading/Writing, we will turn to Mayo Clinic to talk about the difference between Bacteria and Viruses:
Bacteria are single-celled microorganisms that thrive in many different types of environments. Some varieties live in extremes of cold or heat. Others make their home in people’s intestines, where they help digest food. Most bacteria cause no harm to people, but there are exceptions.
Infections caused by bacteria include:
- Strep throat
- Urinary tract infections
Inappropriate use of antibiotics has helped create bacterial diseases that are resistant to treatment with different types of antibiotic medications.
Viruses are even smaller than bacteria and require living hosts — such as people, plants, or animals — to multiply. Otherwise, they can’t survive. When a virus enters your body, it invades some of your cells. It takes over the cell machinery, redirecting it to produce the virus.
Diseases caused by viruses include:
- Common colds
In some cases, it may be difficult to determine whether a bacterium or a virus is causing your symptoms. Many ailments — such as pneumonia, meningitis, and diarrhea — can be caused by either bacteria or viruses.”
Steckelberg, James M., M.D. “Bacterial vs. viral infections: How do they differ?” Mayo Clinic, Sept. 17th, 2017 (https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/infectious-diseases/expert-answers/infectious-disease/faq-20058098)
That being established,
Antibiotics only kill bacteria.
Antiviral medication or vaccines are needed to kill viruses.
Shit’s fire- that’s a thing that young people say- right?
now that we have a foundation laid, let’s move onto some more basics before we get into what exactly Covid-19 is, and how SARS-CoVo2 causes it.
What is A Coronavirus?
“Coronaviruses are a type of virus. There are many different kinds, and some cause disease. ‘Corona’ gets its name from Latin, meaning “crown,” derived from Ancient Greek κορώνη (korōnè, “garland, wreath”).Sauer, Lauren M. M.S. “What Is Coronavirus?” Health, Johns Hopkins Medicine (https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus)
The National Institute of Allergy And Infectious Diseases explains.
“Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that usually cause mild to moderate upper-respiratory tract illnesses, like the common cold, in people. However, three times in the 21st century, coronavirus outbreaks have emerged from animal reservoirs to cause severe disease and global transmission concerns.
There are hundreds of coronaviruses, most of which circulate among animals, including pigs, camels, bats, and cats. Sometimes those viruses jump to humans—called a spillover event—and can cause disease. Seven coronaviruses are known to cause human disease, four of which are mild: viruses 229E, OC43, NL63, and HKU1. Three of the coronaviruses can have more serious outcomes in people, and those diseases are SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) which emerged in late 2002 and disappeared by 2004; MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome), which emerged in 2012 and remains in circulation in camels; and COVID-19, which emerged in December 2019 from China and a global effort is underway to contain its spread. COVID-19 is caused by the coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2.”
Understanding that we will keep moving. Before we get into more specifics on Covid-19, let us first get a feel for how viruses spread in general by becoming familiar with the Basic Reproduction Number and how it works.
Let’s talk this through-
What is R0 (R-Nought) and What Does It Have To Do With “Flattening The Curve”?
R0, pronounced R-Nought (or R-Zero), is also known as the Basic Reproductive Number. You may not have heard too much about this specific term. Still, more than likely, you are familiar with people saying, “Flattening The Curve.” Studying R0 will help you get a better grasp of what that means exactly and how it is done. The Atlantic breaks this down into plain English.
“When a new disease emerges, health organizations turn to a seemingly simple number to gauge whether the outbreak will spread. It’s called the basic reproduction number—R0—and though useful for decision-makers, it’s a nightmare for public communication.
In brief, R0 is the average number of people who will catch the disease from a single infected person, in a population that’s never seen the disease before.
If R0 is 3,
then on average, every case will create three new cases. But even though it seems incredibly straightforward, it’s hard to calculate and tricky to interpret.” Click here to read the full article from The Atlantic.
For Visual/Audio learners, I also found an excellent video by Pleuni Pennings that explains it out even further.
In other words,
R0 (R-Nought- Basic Reproduction Number) is the total number of people that One individual will spread any given disease to. The higher the R0, the more critical situations become. Lowering the R0 is the obvious answer- however, that means we have to stay away from one another. Extreme Social Distancing. By distancing ourselves from one another willingly, we spread out the contagiousness of the virus- if by no other way, then by denying it new hosts for a while. That may not seem like it would do much, but it can be huge. By Social Distancing ourselves, we lower the number of others we come in contact with, we spread out the, well, the spread of the virus, and that allows hospital beds to open up. It will enable more health care officials to be hands-on. It will enable more vital health equipment to be manufactured. This is what “Flattening The Curve” means. Rather than having a burst of new cases, we space them out.
What About Herd Immunity?
“The resistance to the spread of a contagious disease within a population that results if a sufficiently high proportion of individuals are immune to the disease, especially through vaccination.”Oxford Dictionary
That’s a very stuffy way of saying once enough people do not die from the virus, then it will not be able to spread anymore. In this case, at least. If we had time to create a vaccine- then this would be a different story.
Okay, so imagine
that game “Blob” (that’s what the whippersnappers around me call it, but it is likely to have many other names). In Blob, you have one person that is “It”- that person has to run around and tag people. As individuals are tagged, they link arms, and the “blob” moves onward. The game gets trickier as there are fewer susceptible individuals that can be “tagged.” The game is over when the “blob” tags everyone.
Imagine that- only in reverse. The “blob” is Herd Immunity, and the “Susceptible Individuals that can be tagged,” as the virus. That’s kinda like what they are saying.
We now know the difference between viruses and bacteria. We have been introduced to coronaviruses in general. We have a pretty good grasp of R0 and herd immunity. Next, we will be looking into epidemics, pandemics, the difference between the two, and how they spread in general. We will then use that knowledge and what we learned today to get a better understanding of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes Covid-19 tomorrow.
We learned a lot, today Students, pat yourself on the back!
Whoa- that was a lot. My Blog Posts will not all be like that, I promise. I do think it was necessary, however. There is a lot to cover with coronaviruses to get to understanding Covid-19.
Try not to get overwhelmed. This Post will be here for your future viewing. If you didn’t retain all the information this go around, you could always come for a spin again on a later date.
The coronavirus is shutting down the planet in unprecedented ways. It would be easy to play video games and tune out.
I don’t think that is the right answer.
Imagine another country is invading your borders. You wouldn’t just turn on Netflix and ignore the situation.
You would STUDY YOUR ENEMY!
This is no different.
“War” is imminent, but it’s unlike anything that we have experienced before. Pandemics are not new- but we have been warned for years that a modern pandemic could alter life as we know it.
I do not want to scare people; I say this because it is scary whether I say something or not. I spent all this time investigating and researching Covid-19 because I know that not everyone can.
Everyone can stay minimally personally informed, at least, though.
I write this blog post so that if you read nothing else, you have the critical information at the very least.
Do not just take my word for it.
Dig in a little more on your own.
Wash your hands.
More To Come, Students.