The outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has been declared a global emergency. As per experts, the coronavirus disease is considered the worst crisis since World War II and has led to stringent lockdowns by governments worldwide. The coronavirus infection is especially associated with a high mortality rate in individuals with heart diseases, diabetes, and cancers and the elderly.
- The pathogen shortly dubbed as COVID-19 by the World Health Organization (WHO) may have possibly originated in China.
- WHO states that around 80% of the COVID-19 cases are mild, with either cold or flu-like symptoms. These symptoms are mostly seen in the young population with no health conditions.
- The possibility of multiorgan failure exists in elderly patients, especially those with pre-existing diseases such as diabetes or heart failure.
- As per healthcare providers, almost all patients presented with fever, more than two-thirds had cough, and almost 50% had weakness or muscle ache. More than half complained of shortness of breath.
- Many patients complain of “cytokine storm.” This is a condition in which the body releases huge amounts of toxic substances to kill the virus but ends up damaging itself.
- The paramount reason for breathlessness is the fact that this new virus attacks the lung tissues causing severe pneumonia.
- It can also attack the heart muscles and cause myocarditis (severe heart dysfunction).
- We are yet to know if the COVID-19 infection can cause definite long-term sequelae in infected children, pregnant women, or elderly.
For most people, COVID-19 seems to be mild, and it takes a while, that is, 5 days to 2 weeks to cause symptoms.
- Unfortunately, that’s exactly what makes the novel coronavirus more dangerous.
- In the period that an infected person is asymptomatic or mildly ill, they could transmit the virus to dozens of other people through water droplets expelled by coughs or sneezes transferred on skin and other surfaces unknowingly.
- Studies have shown that the latest mutant coronavirus strain found in the UK is more dangerous because of its potential to spread easily in the population.
- Some mutant strains may not respond to the available vaccines as well.
What are the treatment options for COVID-19?
Several drugs have been tried and used to manage the COVID-19 infection all over the world. Patients with mild symptoms and no breathlessness are to be managed with acetaminophen and rest. For managing moderate to severe symptoms of coronavirus disease, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends the following treatment:
- Remdesivir: Currently, it is the only approved drug for patients with severe symptoms requiring ventilators and supplemental oxygen. It is to be given in an intensive care unit (ICU) setting only.
- Baricitinib: It can be only used in combination with remdesivir. It is for patients with severe symptoms.
- Dexamethasone: It is a corticosteroid that improves survival in patients who are hospitalized. However, there are specific guidelines where it should and should not be used. These must be checked before initiating the drug.
- Convalescent plasma therapy: It is an off-label therapy and may work best when given early in the treatment cycle.
- Vaccine: Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have shown to protect patients against mortality associated with COVID-19. However, preventive measures such as social distancing, mask, and hand washing must be followed even after vaccination is completed.
- Coronavirus is a family of viruses that include the common cold and more serious diseases such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).
- Coronavirus infections manifest as a wide range of symptoms including fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties.
- It is unclear how deadly the new virus is. Although severe cases can cause pneumonia and death, there may be many cases of milder disease going undetected.
- Many of those who have died had pre-existing medical conditions, were elderly, or with weakened immune systems.
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