Corona virus has spread to more than 150 countries and claimed more than 8,000 lives which has led the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare it a global pandemic.
There are now more than 200,000 confirmed cases, the majority outside China where the virus originated.
Europe is now the epicenter of the crisis with cases and deaths increasing rapidly in several countries(notably Italy)leading to a total lock down in the cities.
The origins of the virus have been heavily linked to illegally traded wildlife at the seafood market in Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, where the outbreak began in mid November 2019, weeks before authorities acknowledged its existence.
The outbreak of the neoteric virus in central China is laden in mystery, with the most glaring one being how it could have possibly made the changeover from an animal host into humans. This global health crisis is a stark reminder of the danger of zoonoses — the ability of pathogens, including bacteria and viruses, to enter the human populace from an animal host.
The virus is similar to two viruses that circulate in bats, but it might have skipped through another species most likely a pangolin directly or indirectly(via an intermediate host like a ferret) before infecting humans.
Infectious-disease epidemiologists at the University of South Carolina argue that it is impossible to mitigate the spread of the virus until they conclusively isolate the intermediary host.
It still remains unclear whether the virus can be transmitted by infected people before they become symptomatic.
Ironically another battle among scientists still looms over what to call the novel corona virus.At the present moment, it is officially “2019-nCoV,” which is gauche at best and does little to describe the virus or the resultant disease in humans.A possible likelihood is that the virus may be given a name that is a variant of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), a virus that killed 774 people in 37 countries before it was contained in 2003.
The two corona viruses are genetically akin, and both are found in bats implying they in all likelihood shared a common ancestry prior to their current mutation and evolution.
Scientists have distinguished about 400 emerging diseases since 1940, with 60% being zoonotic, according to a 2012 study published in the Lancet, a British medical journal. They include HIV from chimpanzees, Ebola and Marburg from bats, Hantavirus from mice, MERS from camels, and swine and avian flus’. Bats comprise a fifth of all mammal species and are frequent reservoirs of viruses that can potentially infect humans.
Life on Earth exists in a thick microbial soup and survival encompasses symbiosis(for example, gut bacteria in humans) and the tolerance of potentially lethal pathogens.
There are very few known pathogens more enigmatic than viruses, which are just bare-bones stretches of genetic material, either DNA or RNA, with some kind of protective coating who without a host cells nutritional infrastructure are rendered redundant virulence wise.
The zoonotic phenomenon has been around for thousands of years, but the modern world has exacerbated it as a result of geographical dynamics. More people are coming into contact with more animals in more places, including habitats rarely or never visited by human beings, say bat caves deep in the forests. Changes in land use for commercial ventures like mining,agriculture,as well as uncontrolled wild-animal markets also accelerate viral changeovers: And once a virus modulates into humans, population density becomes a factor in turning what might potentially be a small eruption of illnesses into an epidemic as we are currently experiencing(person-person transmission).
In a study in the Lancet, three University of Hong Kong scientists have estimated that the coronavirus has a reproduction rate of 2.68, meaning every 10 sick people would eventually infect approximately 27 others which based on the present ambit may turn out to be a global calamity unless the authorities that be, strictly adhere to the stipulated punitive measures that limit population mobility in affected viz school closures,working from home and cancellation of mass gatherings.