COVID-19 is still very much a threat to the U.S. and the world, with cases continuing to rise in parts of the country. Learning accurate information about the Coronavirus, including what it is and how it started, can be helpful in continuing to protect yourself and your family.
What is the Coronavirus?
The Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, is a respiratory disease caused by SARS-CoV-2. The virus spreads through respiratory droplets from person to person. Specifically, it spreads when an infected person sneezes, coughs, or talks. While symptoms can range from mild to severe, some infected people do not display any symptoms. Adults 65 years old and older are at higher risk for experiencing severe symptoms.
Why is it Called Coronavirus?
There are many different kinds of coronaviruses. The names come from their appearance, which is covered with spike proteins surrounding them like a crown. “Corona” means “crown.” SARS-CoV-2 is a type of Coronavirus.
When Did COVID Start?
Chinese health officials alerted the World Health Organization on December 31, 2019, of several cases of pneumonia in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China. The pneumonia was caused by a virus that did not match any other known virus.
Where Did COVID Originate?
The virus first appeared in Wuhan CIty, Hubei Province of China. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), epidemiologists conducted field investigations to find out how the new virus started. This included surveys in the community and in health facilities, where they collected nose and throat specimens for lab analyses.
From these studies, they were able to learn who was infected when they became sick, and where they had been before they got sick. It’s also from this information that the epidemiologists determined that the virus possibly came from an animal sold at the Wuhan Market. However, research by the World Health Organization indicates that the virus might not have originated at the market.
How is COVID-19 Currently Being Monitored?
Hospitals, health departments, and government institutions are regularly monitoring the spread and mutations of the virus by genomic sequencing of select positive COVID-19 samples, according to the suggestions of the CDC. One solution adopted by countries around the world is the Paragon Genomics CleanPlex® SARS-CoV-2 Panel. This panel has been effectively used for a significant number of epidemiology studies to help researchers and epidemiologists better understand the virus.
How Did COVID Start?
It is believed that the virus originated in bats, where it then most likely was spread to a different type of animal (an intermediate host). Which type of animal that might have been is still unknown. From that animal, it reproduced and eventually began spreading to humans. While initially it was believed the virus began spreading to humans at the Wuhan Market, research conducted by the World Health Organization indicates it might have been circulating before the market.
Symptoms can range from mild to severe and include some or all of the following:
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty breathing
- Body aches
- Loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
How Can I Protect Myself From COVID-19?
To reduce your risk of getting COVID-19, the CDC recommends taking the following measures:
- Vaccinations are available
- If you are not fully vaccinated and aged 2 or older, wear a mask in indoor public places.
- If you are fully vaccinated, to maximize protection from the Delta variant and prevent possibly spreading it to others, wear a mask indoors in public if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission.