Let’s first remember that a virus is amicroscopic infectious particle which needs a host cell in order to grow.
Coronaviruses are a specific family of enveloped viruses which cause several illnesses in mammals and birds. In humans, they may be responsible for between 10% and 30% of upper respiratory tract infections and a large proportion of colds.
The coronavirus discovered a few months ago which has shaken the whole world is called SRAS-CoV-2. (1)
It is responsible for a new respiratory disease: COVID-19 (short for ‘Coronavirus Disease 2019’).
As we know, this epidemic emerged at the beginning of December in Wuhan, China, in a local market trading in wildlife.
It seems the contamination came from an animal source. A mammal called a pangolin may have been the intermediate host responsible for transmitting the coronavirus to humans.
Cases soon reached the thousands in China, and quickly spread across the world via travellers carrying the virus. Very rapidly, countries including Italy, South Korea, Iran, France and the United States were all reporting rising numbers of cases ...
On 9 January 2020, the Chinese health authorities and the World Health Organization (WHO) officially announced the discovery of SRAS-CoV-2.
Reacting on a day-by-day basis, countries tried to take action to stem the spread of coronavirus: quarantining individuals or whole towns, cancelling sporting and cultural events, closing schools … The situation was already having a major impact on the global economy.
On 11 March 2020, the status of COVID-19 was upgraded by the WHO from epidemic to pandemic (signifying the extent of its impact on the global population). (2)
This coronavirus has spread to 5 continents and at least 110 countries.
As of 12 March 2020, 130,000 people had been infected worldwide, and the virus had claimed 4700 lives.
As of this date, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the UK stood at 596 and the number of deaths at 10. Some patients have since recovered, and others are still being treated.
COVID-19 has a mortality rate of around 3.5% compared with just 0.1% for seasonal flu.
The coronavirus figure may, however, be lower, as milder cases have not necessarily been detected.
It’s thought that the infection remains mild in 4 out of 5 cases. However, 20% of patients require hospitalisation, and 5% have to be admitted to intensive care.
Coronavirus patients generally display one or more of the following symptoms:
Two to three days later, other, more significant symptoms may appear:
Attention: if you’re showing any of these symptoms of respiratory infection, it’s important not to visit your doctor’s surgery or the hospital to avoid spreading the infection.
Instead, call 111 (UK), or your GP, who will tell you the right procedure to follow to get tested. The test normally consists of taking a nasal swab with a cotton bud to check for the presence of an RNA strand specific to this coronavirus.
For all general enquiries about coronavirus, visit https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/ (UK).
With coronavirus, an infected individual is contagious as soon as their symptoms appear – and even before, in some cases.
In the absence of preventive measures, it’s thought that each such individual will normally go on to infect a further2 to 3 people.
The incubation period (the time between contamination and the appearance of symptoms) is on average, 5 days. The illness normally lasts at least 2 days and does not exceed 12, which is why the quarantine period is 14 days.
There appear to be several ways of contracting the coronavirus, namely:
It’s important to note that the virus can survive for a few hours in an external environment (less on dry surfaces than on damp ones). It can even survive for up to 9 days on metal, glass or plastic.
So far, it appears that pets such as cats and dogs neither contract nor spread the disease.
Those aged over 65 are at higher risk of suffering the consequences of infection by the SRAS-CoV-2 virus. Above the age of 80, the mortality rate can be as high as 14.8%.
Coronavirus can have more serious effects in immunosuppressed people or those suffering from a chronic disease (cancer, diabetes ...)
A quick recap on the basic steps for protecting yourself and others:
For the moment, there is no treatment approved by medical authorities for combatting the virus. Certain drugs are being considered, tested and even given to some patients: Remdesivir (anti-Ebola), Ritonavir (anti-HIV), chloroquine (anti-malarial)... It remains to be seen whether they are effective.
Above all, avoid taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as ibuprofen, Nurofen, naproxen, diclofenac or Voltaren) and corticosteroids (such as Cortancyl, prednisolone or Celesene), which may aggravate the disease.
Neither is there any vaccine for preventing the disease. The Pasteur Institute in Paris has indicated that preliminary tests on mice began on 11 March 2020. According to a number of specialists, it will be autumn 2021before a vaccine is ready.
In addition to the preventive measures we have just repeated, let's take a look at our immune defenses for a moment.
As Dr. Damien Mascret said about the best way to counter the coronavirus: "What works best is our immune system" (France Info, January 26, 2020). (4)
How can we strengthen our natural defenses? The recipe is well known, and SuperSmart is always professing it. What you need to do is:
Let's also list some products of nature that are good for general health:
Produced by bees to protect the hive from the cold and diseases, propolis is a veritable treasure trove of beneficial compounds. Discover its secrets and how to get the most out of it.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has compiled a list of vitamins that support normal immune system function. Discover these 5 unquestionably effective vitamins, and the foods that contain them.
Do you know which three minerals best support normal immune system function, according to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)? Discover how these minerals work and which foods contain them.
Many people complain of always feeling tired and lacking in energy. Here’s a list of anti-fatigue foods to help restore your vitality.
It’s the king of the vitamins: vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid. Here we explore 10 of the best vitamin C-rich foods and how to make the most of their benefits.
Vitamin A is key among those vitamins considered essential for health. Here are our recommendations for ensuring an adequate intake.