Coronavirus: What you should know

Mar 13, 2020 | Diseases | 0 Comentarios

By: Dr. @cazamed (@cazamed22)

What are Coronaviruses?

They are a family of viruses that have been known for many years. They live in animals: birds and mammals, mainly bats. Famous for being an animal-borne disease (zoonosis) that causes a third of respiratory and intestinal infections (they love the bronchi and gut) at certain times of the year (so-called «respiratory spikes»). They are almost as common as influenza.

So … did we already know about the Coronavirus?

Yes of course. We have known for a long time that it causes disease in humans and they are usually found everywhere, which has made us quite familiar and acquire certain defenses that usually annihilate it when entering our body.

Why is it famous now? Is more dangerous? How fatal is it?

Animals carrying the virus allow it to evolve and create new forms of it. The current COVID-19 (a name given to the new type of coronavirus) is a new mutation of these, which means that when entering our body it is not recognized by the defenses we already had against the other viruses of this family, triggering the respiratory or intestinal disease, in 80% of cases very mild, in 15% of cases a serious infection, and 5% of cases very serious (severe), being fatal in 2.5% of those who show signs of disease.

Where did the new Coronavirus come from?

First detected in Wuhan, China in 2019. Apparently, it went from some animal that was sold in a “wet market” (fresh seafood) and live animals sold in the same place, and it infected the first people in that population.

How does it get into the body?

Like all viruses that cause the flu or diarrhea: by drops of saliva or phlegm that carry the virus and reach our respiratory tract directly through the mouth or nose (we inhale them) or we bring them to the eyes or with our hands (contact)

What does it feel like when I have Coronavirus?

When the virus enters the body, half of the people will not feel anything at any time and it will disappear. Those who do develop symptoms can start between 2 and 14 days after being infected. The symptoms can be:

  • Almost always (> 90% of the time): Fever, snot, and cough without phlegm
  • Sometimes (30-50% of cases): General low energy, body pain, shortness of breath, and cough with phlegm.
  • Half of the people who get the virus: DO NOT feel anything or develop the disease (Asymptomatic)

Is there a treatment?

None, except keep hydrated and calm the fever while the body builds up the defenses to annihilate it on its own. In today’s medicine, we have never had effective medications to treat viruses. When a person develops a severe disease, doctors take care of helping the body to «endure» the severity of the disease for several days while the defense system itself manages to eradicate the virus from the body and repair the organs that have been affected.

Why can the Coronavirus kill people?

In those who develop severe disease, that is, 15% of those who have overt symptoms (usually people> 49 years and with other chronic diseases previously), the virus inflames the lungs too much, seriously altering the entry of oxygen into the blood, also altering our defenses allowing the entry of other very aggressive microorganisms (coinfection with bacteria) that end up inflaming excessively causing death.

Is it worth worrying about now?

Of course. But the concern should be to learn once and for all to apply habits of personal hygiene and respect for other people, such as washing our hands constantly, using disinfectant gel frequently but having more than 60% alcohol. When somebody has symptoms of the flu or diarrhea, do not go to crowded places, do not say hello with hugs, beak or hand. Whenever you go to sneeze or cough we should do it in the fold between the arm and the forearm

Is the global scandal necessary for this?

In my opinion, it does deserve it, not because it is a new disease that will end humanity as it does not outperform the famous equally common influenza virus and even produces more deaths than this coronavirus, but because we must learn once and for all that personal and social hygiene habits are important. If we look, the last pandemics have always been due to respiratory viruses due to their easy contagion to others and that we do not pay due attention to the measures of respect and reduction of spread. 

It is time to change our behaviors, to gain respect for infectious respiratory diseases and to take responsibility for some lousy habits of social hygiene.


  1. Anthony SJ et al. Global patterns in coronavirus diversity. Virus Evol. 2017;3(1):vex012. Epub 2017 Jun 12. 
  2. Coronaviruses. UpToDate. Literature review current through: Feb 2020. | This topic last updated: Feb 18, 2020.
  3. Clinical Characteristics of Coronavirus Disease 2019 in China. N Engl J Med.  February 28, 2020, and last updated on March 6, 2020
  4. Characteristics of and Important Lessons From the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Outbreak in China: Summary of a Report of 72 314 Cases From the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. JAMA 2020

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Updated March 12, 2020

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