There is an outbreak of a new virus called the Coronavirus and currently, there are around 60k confirmed cases worldwide. The virus which is called COVID-19 has spread across 203 countries with the majority of cases reported from mainland China. The death toll has reached 1,370 with most of them being those with an underlying medical condition.
How did the outbreak happen?
There is nothing conclusive with regard to the source of the outbreak and there are various theories floating around. But it is widely believed that the reason for the virus could be the pangolins. A strain of the virus was isolated from the pangolins and it was found that it was almost genetically similar to the strain of the virus that has caused the outbreak. The reason that many consider pangolins as the cause is that a powder made of the animals’ scales is used in Chinese medicine to cure many ailments. Since most of the scales are procured illegally and are unregulated, there is a high likelihood of the consumer getting exposed to infections. However, this theory is yet to be verified and published, so for at least for now, this information should be considered just that and not a valid reason.
Diagnostics and Data Gathering
Though the number of deaths is on the rise it is not as bad as it was predicted but it still is a serious threat to the health of the public. Countries all over the world including those with the best health systems in place are finding it a challenge to find people who are infected, quarantine them, treat the infection and stop the spread.
To contain the spread of this virus, there is a need for advanced tools and technologies that can gather data and make proper predictions. Hence, comes the need for specialized tools as per OnRamp Bioinformatics based on collected data. This can help detect the viral variant. It further helps in evaluating drug responses to the same. Thereby helping to find a fast solution. However, as a consolation factor, there is one silver lining in all this messy situation. The diagnostic tests to find if the virus is present are quite rapid. The rapid tests look for the nucleic acid of the virus by checking RNA which is the genetic code of the virus. But this works only if the patient is sick. Mild infections are not that easily detected as the virus levels drop and the RNA is not present.
This is where diagnostics can improve their tests and researchers all over the world are finding ways to improve their diagnostics and data collection. They are currently making use of multiple detection methods to increase the speed, efficiency, and sensitivity of the coronavirus to control it. Another type of test that is being developed is to find antibodies for the virus but it is not yet an approved test. A prototype device has been created to detect coronavirus but that too is still in the experimental stage.
Coronavirus has become a matter of great concern especially for those who travel frequently. Many have started using masks which are found to be ineffective and gives a wrong sense of security. The spread of infections and diseases can be prevented by following basic hygiene. So wash your hands and stay away from people who have a cold and cough to safeguard yourself from a coronavirus attack!