While the world is firmly in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic, we take a look back at SARS and their underlying pathogens, which are also coronaviruses.
Coronaviruses are a large family of enveloped RNA viruses that mostly infect birds and mammals. In humans, they can cause mild infection in the upper respiratory tract, like the common cold, but also more serious lower respiratory tract infections.
These infections can manifest as bronchitis, pneumonia, or a severe respiratory illness, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), or coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19).
( But how similar are the SARS and COVID-19 coronaviruses? And how do the diseases compare?)
we explore the history of each corona virus outbreak, as well as the statistics and medical advances.
Coronavirus are very diverse family of viruses. They have a large host range, which includes humans.
Coronavirus have spiky projections on their surface that look like crowns. Corona means “crown” in Latin and that’s how this family of viruses got their name.
Most of the time, human coronavirus cause mild respiratory illnesses like the common cold. In fact, four types of human coronavirus cause 10 to 30 percent Trusted Source of upper respiratory tract infections in adults.
A new type of coronavirus can emerge when an animal coronavirus develops the ability to transmit a disease to humans. When germs are transmitted from an animal to a human, it’s called zoonotic transmission. Coronaviruse that make the jump to human hosts can cause serious illness. This can be due to a variety of factors, particularly humans’ lack of immunity to the new virus. Here are some examples of such coronavirus:
A new, unknown virus was found to have infected humans in Wuhan, China in December 2019. The infectious disease spread globally before the WHO declared it a pandemic in early March 2020. This was later named COVID-19. It was also known as the “2019 novel coronavirus”. The virus was named SARS-CoV-2 to differentiate it from other coronaviruses.
Severe infection may lead to viral pneumonia.
The outbreak of COVID-19 spread rapidly across most continents even taking the lives of several people across geographies. COVID-19 spreads from a person who is infected with the virus. It can spread through droplets discharged from the mouth or nose when a person coughs or sneezes. This discharge lands on surfaces and objects. Touching these objects or surfaces can transmit the virus.
As per WHO, vaccination or specific medicine for the treatment or prevention of the novel coronavirus are yet to be found effective. There are researches and the developments being carried out for a vaccine to curb the spread of the deadly virus. They are currently being tested through clinical trials before they can be found to be effective in the treatment of the disease.
In case you are affected by the virus, take medical care to treat the illness and those with severe illness are required to be hospitalized. To protect yourself and others, wash your hands with soap and water frequently, cover your cough with a tissue or your elbow. Also, maintain Social Distancing.
While people of all ages can be affected by COVID-19, it has been found that symptoms and infection of virus can affect people with:
The outbreak of a coronavirus in 2003 was identified as SARS-CoV which is assumed to have transmitted through an animal virus from bats and then spread to civet cats. It was first found to have infected humans in 2002 in China as reported by the WHO.
The illness can worsen to shortness of breath even leading to pneumonia.
The outbreak resulted in more than 8000 cases spread over 26 countries in 2003. The transmission was found to be from person to person and it occurred during the second week of illness. While the outbreak was severe in the health care settings, it was brought under control after the implementation of better practices of infection control.
Currently, there are several partners working with the WHO on developing experimental vaccination for the SARS.
Currently, there are no areas which have reported cases of SARS except for some accidents in laboratories in Chinese Taipei and Singapore as well as one from southern China. However, the source of infection is not determined yet in the area of southern China.
There are many similarities between COVID-19 and SARS. However, there are also important differences. COVID-19 cases can range from mild to severe, while SARS cases, in general, were more severe. But COVID-19 spreads more easily. There are also some differences in the symptoms between the two illnesses.
There hasn’t been a documented case of SARS since 2004, as strict public health measures were implemented to contain its spread. COVID-19 may be more challenging to contain because the virus that causes this disease spreads more easily and often causes mild symptoms.