CORONA – It is Pandemic or Not IAS Target

CORONA - It's Pandemic or Not

14 Sep 2020

Category : Daily Current Affairs

    Coronaviruses are a group of related RNA viruses that cause diseases in mammals and birds. In humans, these viruses cause respiratory tract infections that can range from mild to lethal.

    Mild illnesses Include some cases of the common cold,
    More lethal varieties Can cause SARS, MERS, and COVID-19.

    Symptoms in other species vary:

    • In chickens, they cause an upper respiratory tract disease,
    • In cows and pigs they cause diarrhea.

    There are as yet no vaccines or antiviral drugs to prevent or treat human coronavirus infections. The genome size of coronaviruses ranges from approximately 26 to 32 kilobases, one of the largest among RNA viruses. They have characteristic club-shaped spikes that project from their surface, which in electron micrographs create an image reminiscent of the solar corona, from which their name derives. A top Chinese researcher has certify that the coronavirus cause thousands of death in China and Corona can spread between human beings. Coronavirus also known as the Wuhan Virus.


    The first cases of coronavirus was emerged in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei province. A coronavirus causes infection in your nose, sinuses, or upper throat. Most coronaviruses are not dangerous. Cold- or flu-like symptoms usually set in around 2–4 days after the infection develops. Typically, the symptoms are mild, though they vary from person to person. In some people, coronavirus infections are fatal.
    Symptoms may include:
    • a runny nose
    • a headache
    • a cough
    • a fever
    • a sore throat
    • generally feeling unwell
    • Human-to-human transmission has now been confirmed.
    • Animals are the outbreak’s likely primary source.
    • Direct contact with farm or wild animals should be avoided.

    There is currently no cure for the cold-like illnesses caused by coronaviruses. Treatments include self-care and over-the-counter medications. Coronavirus can infect both animals and humans.

    Common Human Coronaviruses

    There are four common human coronaviruses:
    • 229E
    • NL63
    • OC43
    • HKU1

    Other human coronaviruses

    Three additional coronaviruses originated as animal infections Trusted Source. Over time, these viruses evolved and were eventually transmitted to humans. These coronaviruses pose more serious risks to human health.
    • SARS-CoV
      SARS-CoV causes Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). As per WHO Trusted Source, the first human cases appeared in southern China in November 2002. SARS-CoV may have originated in bats and were transmitted to other animals before infecting humans. The outbreak was contained in mid-2003. Since then, a handful of cases have occurred due to laboratory accidents. There are currently no reported cases of SARS transmission in the world.
    • MERS-CoV
      MERS-CoV causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). A per WHO Trusted Source, it emerged in September 2012 in Saudi Arabia. Humans contract MERS-CoV through contact with camels that have contracted the infection. The virus is also transmitted by coming into very close contact with a person who has the infection.
    • SARS-CoV-2
      SARS-CoV-2 causes COVID-19. This new coronavirus appeared in Wuhan, China, in late December 2019 after health officials noticed an increase in pneumonia cases with no known cause. These cases have since been linked to a market selling seafood and poultry. Though the virus likely evolved from an animal source, its exact source is unknown.


    As testing is stepped up in emerging economies and hitherto undetected cases enter the official records. India overtook Russia to become the country with the world’s third-highest number of COVID-19 cases at around 700,000. The United States (3,000,000+) and Brazil (1,700,000+) take the first and second spots. Globally, the total cases crossed the 12-million mark on Thursday. A study by researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) predicts that India will hit 287,000 cases per day by early 2021 if no vaccine or medicine is developed by then. World Health Organization (WHO) admitted to an “emerging evidence” that COVID-19 could spread by air beyond the two-metre distance that the global body had been asking people to maintain. People see a similarity with the SARS outbreak that infected over 8,000 people and killed around 775 in more than 35 countries worldwide in 2002-03. The source of the virus was traced back to a colony of horseshoe bats living in remote cave in Yunnan province. The virus was carried by civet cats which are sold in markets in China.

    Economic and financial implications due to Coronavirus

    The outbreak has sent shivers through world financial markets, with investors drawing comparisons to the 2003 SARS outbreak in order to assess its potential economic impact. Expected annual losses from pandemic risk to be about $500 billion — or 0.6% of global income — per year, accounting for both lost income and the intrinsic cost of elevated mortality. Despite the disruption to the wider economy, virus outbreaks have tended to benefit pharmaceutical stocks, while tourism and travel-related stocks — hotels, airlines and luxury and consumer goods — tend to get punished.
    During the SARS outbreak, retail sales figures in China showed a marked drop-off as consumer spending took a hit. The weakness in the global economy due to the pandemic is expected to reflect in the Q2 numbers (we could as well call it the ‘Covid quarter’) put out by the companies as the earnings season gets underway. Samsung Electronics forecast a 23% rise in its second-quarter operating profit, thanks to the increasing chip sales to data centres.

    China: The center of global outburst of disease

    Several deadly new viruses in recent years have emerged in China:
    • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS),
    • bird flu, and
    • now the novel coronavirus (nCOV).

    The reason are:

    • The busy food markets dotting cities across the country
    • fruits, vegetables, hairy crabs and butchered meat are often sold next to bamboo rats, snakes, turtles, and palm civets.
    • Closely packed stalls in busy marketplaces,
    • the Chinese taste for exotic meats, and the high population density of cities create the conditions for the spread of zoonotic infections

    Zoonotic infections

    A zoonosis (or zoonotic diseases) is an infectious disease caused by a pathogen (an infectious agent, such as a bacterium, virus, parasite or prion) that has jumped from a non-human animal to a human. Typically, the first infected human transmits the infectious agent to at least one other human, who, in turn, infects others. Major modern diseases such as Ebola virus disease and salmonellosis are zoonoses. HIV was a zoonotic disease transmitted to humans in the early part of the 20th century. Most strains of influenza that infect humans are human diseases, although many strains of bird flu and swine flu are zoonoses.
    The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that globally, about a billion cases of illness and millions of deaths occur every year from zoonoses, i.e, diseases and infections naturally transmitted between people and vertebrate animals. Some 60% of emerging infectious diseases globally are zoonoses. Of the over 30 new human pathogens detected over the last three decades, 75% originated in animals.
    Dr K S Reddy, former professor of AIIMS and president of the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) noted that the majority of new outbreaks and pandemic threats over the past five decades had arisen from microbes transmitted from animals to humans, either directly or through another animal reservoir host.

    India’s disease outbreak investigation protocol

    Indians have been kept under observation at an isolation ward in Hospital after they returned from China or other foreign countries. The National Health Portal of India lists a 10-step procedure to investigate an outbreak, including:
    • preparing for fieldwork,
    • establishing the existence of an outbreak,
    • verifying diagnosis,
    • defining and identifying cases, and
    • communicating findings.
    The decision regarding whether and how extensively to investigate a potential outbreak depends on a variety of factors. These factors may be:
    • related to the health problem,
    • related to the health department, and
    • some factors may have external concerns.

    Factors related to the problem itself include:

    • the severity of the illness,
    • the number of cases,
    • the source, mode or ease of transmission, and
    • the availability of prevention and control measures.

    “Most local health departments investigate an apparent outbreak when the number of affected (or exposed) persons is large, when the disease is severe when effective control measures exist, and when the outbreak has the potential to affect others unless prompt control measures are taken.” Indians have been advised to avoid non-essential travel to China and to maintain good personal hygiene among various other precautions and measures.
    Infectious diseases including those of the zoonotic variety are on the rise in India. In addition, regions in India suffer from seasonal outbreaks of dengue, malaria and influenza strains. In this context:
    The nation-wide disease surveillance programme needs to be strengthened.
    Given the growth potential of India’s biotech sector, it is time to put in place a robust public-private partnership model that can transform the health services sector in the country, covering disease surveillance, diagnostic kit availability and accelerated vaccine development.

Posted by : IAS Target