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The Party Is Over. Covid-19 Is Now In Charge

The 2008 crisis still resonates in our society. Although it seems that it is gone, not everybody has been able to recover. The differences between rich and poor are even bigger today.

And suddenly, the coronavirus arises, and it takes over everything: Health and the economy. But how a virus can put us on our knees?

It is a paradox, while we have not achieved a global agreement to face the  climate change crisis, that is a consequence of the activity of humans and their arrogance and that threatens our very survival; a democratic virus emerges that does not distinguish between fame, money or social status and that also puts Wall Street and the most powerful on the planet in check

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TO START WITH, WHAT IS THE DIFERENCE BETWEEN BACTERIA AND VIRUSES?

Bacteria and viruses are invisible to the human eye, are present almost in any environment and can make us sick, many of them already existed in times when on Earth there was not yet larger living beings, but in the margin of it, little more have in common. In some ways they are the owners of the world who have no remorse attacking the living beings of all kinds.

A bacterial cell can be divided, two daughter cells are formed, which in turn can also be divided. In contrast to bacteria, viruses cannot multiply for themselves, as they do not have cytoplasm or ribosomes, nor can they copy their genome or produce a wrapper.

Therefore, viruses attack other guest cells in which they introduce their own genetic information that “Reprogramme” that of host cells so that they produce many new viruses, which then abandon the infected cells

LET’S GO TO WIKIPEDIA..

A virus (from Latin viruses, “toxin” or “poison”) is a sub microscopic infectious agent that is unable to grow or reproduce if it is not within a host cell. Viruses infect all types of cellular life. The first known virus, the tobacco mosaic virus, was discovered by Martinus Beijerinck in 1899, and today more than 5,000 different types are known. The study of viruses is called virology and is a branch of microbiology.

AND NOW WE GO TO HISTORY…

A pandemic is a global epidemic. The influenza pandemic of 1918, often called unfairly Spanish flu, (in fact, researchers identified that it began in France in a military camp of the First World War in Étaples. The research was published in 1999 by a British team led by virologist John Oxford), was a flu pandemic caused by a particularly severe and deadly flu virus. The victims were often healthy young adults, in contrast to most flu outbreaks, which predominantly affect juvenile, large or weak patients.

The Spanish flu pandemic took lasted 1918 to 1919. Original estimates claim that it killed 40-50 million people, while the most recent suggest that it may have killed up to 100 million people, or 5% of the global population in 1918.

The evolutionary history of viruses represents a fascinating, albeit annoying topic for virologists and cellular biologists. Because of the great diversity among viruses, biologists have struggled to classify these entities and how they relate to the conventional tree of life. They can represent genetic elements that obtained the ability to move between cells. They can represent previously free-living organisms that became parasites. They may be the precursors of life as we know it.

Leaving aside the historical and biological analysis, we are talking about the impact of the coronavirus that is attacking mercilessly and puts in crisis that of “Salud, Dinero y Amor”. It is a danger to health; it is putting in crisis the economy and prevents us from giving kisses or embrace our friends and lovers.

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PSYCHOLOGICAL EFFECTS CAUSED BY A PANDEMIC.

Human beings like certainty.  We are hard-wired to want to know what is happening when and to notice things that feel threatening to us.  When things feel uncertain or when we don’t generally feel safe, it’s normal to feel stressed.  This very reaction, while there to protect us, can cause all sorts of havoc when there is a sense of uncertainty and conflicting information around us.

We will be seeing the effects of the threats of infectious diseases that manifest themselves as pure anxiety and panic: concern for an infection, concern for affected patients and concern when there are even mild related symptoms. The absence of a definite treatment or a vaccine for the coronavirus easily aggravates the anxiety. In most cases, these anxiety symptoms do not reach diagnostic thresholds for a DSM-5 diagnosis.

It can also manifest obsessions and hypochondriac symptoms. Seek information without stopping and making more case of alarmist information, wash your hands compulsively, feel threatened when you’re in a bar or space that there are many people, or identify any bodily discomfort as a symptom of the pandemic. Depression from believing that we will die, that the world sinks and that I will be a victim soon.

FEAR OF DEATH

But above all a pandemic is putting us in crisis because it can be deadly. Here lies the key. We can die because of this virus. Put death in our agenda, undoing our efforts to ignore it.

We could talk about the silent death that involves obesity, alcohol, drugs, smoking, loneliness, pollution, certain chemicals, etc. We know this, but we don’t always make a case. On June 11, 2017 the New England Journal of Medicine published an article where it is scientifically shown that in the world 4 million people died due to diseases derived from obesity, most of these by cardiovascular disease. (This represents 7.1 percent of the deaths for any reason.) The cardiovascular disease related to a high IMC was the main cause, the second, chronic kidney disease. Silence.

We are privileged if we compare ourselves with our ancestors. We cannot imagine the way we live, contagious diseases and death only 100 years ago, not to say in ancient times where life was a currency devalued from birth, with a great infant mortality

Humanity has always suffered. Happiness is a recent concept. Our brains are wired to survive, more than to be happy. We are here to survive and continue the human species, like all living creatures. It seems that we are the only living creature aware of our own death, and this is quite stressful

The Covid-19 especially reminds us that we are a fragile and vulnerable which nobody likes.  Death was from the beginning a great mystery to humans. To have consolation, they triumphed religions and esoteric beliefs. We are looking for comfort zones where death is absent. We spent life looking for all sorts of distractions. Hide and ignore death.

The Chancellor, Angela Merkel has claimed that probably 70% of citizens of Germany will be affected by the coronavirus soon. She may be right or not. Someone has written that all this is like a lottery. Yet not everybody affected ends up dying, the World Health Organization (WHO) is clearer: it indicates that in China, where the virus Covid-19 originated, the mortality rate is between 2% and 4%, and outside the Asian country, it is between 0,7% and 4%

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EXAMPLES ON HOW TECHNOLOGY HAS DRAMATICALLY EVOLVED SINCE THE DAY OF THE SARS VIRUS (2002)

The world has changed a lot since the SARS virus crisis in 18 years. Then there were not yet smartphones, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, data analytics, blockchain, robots, telemedicine, electronic medical records, genomics, etc. Technologies that were not sufficiently developed or were not massively present in our society. I have allowed myself to collect some examples of recently published news.

A.I. to detect the spread of an epidemic

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has also proven effective in advancing public health. BlueDot, a Canadian company, uses AI to scan 100,000 online articles in 65 different languages daily for public health information. This approach was so effective that the company was able to alert clients about the coronavirus before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization alerted the public. Health apps with chatbots are also using artificial intelligence to screen people who are feverish and coughing and advise them whether they should be evaluated for infection with the coronavirus.

Interactive maps for monitoring

Today’s data on the geographic distribution of COVID-19 cases worldwide

https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/publications-data/download-todays-data-geographic-distribution-covid-19-cases-worldwide

The downloadable data file is updated daily and contains the latest available public data on COVID-19. Public-use data files allows users to manipulate the data in a format appropriate for their analyses. Users of ECDC public-use data files must comply with data use restrictions to ensure that the information will be used solely for statistical analysis or reporting purposes.

Genome sequencing to find potential vaccines

Scientists at MIGAL Research Institute in Israel expect to start producing a Covid-19 vaccine in the next eight-ten weeks, based on their avian coronavirus Infectious Bronchitis Virus (IBV) vaccine.

The team developed the IBV vaccine after four years of research, funded by the country’s Ministry of Science & Technology and conducted in alliance with the Ministry of Agriculture. IBV is a disease affecting poultry, and the new vaccine was found to be effective in pre-clinical trials at the Volcani Institute.

The researchers discovered a potential Covid-19 vaccine candidate as a by-product of the IBV vaccine. They made genetic alterations to adapt the IBV vaccine to the human strain of the novel coronavirus.

New technology for faster detection

A point-of-care diagnostic tool that provides accurate, fast and inexpensive screening tests in support of the global effort to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak will save lives, said a University of Alberta analytical and environmental toxicology researcher who won a grant to develop just such a tool.

“We have already started with the development,” said Chris Le, a professor in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology who is leading one of four U of A projects funded through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Rapid Research Funding Opportunity created to aid in the battle against COVID-19.

Another example is Mediktor a Barcelona/ Boston based Company, a Software as a Service solution that can be integrated into any interface, some weeks ago launched an AI-based COVID-19 symptom check.

Robots

Chinese researchers have developed a robot designed to help doctors treat the new coronavirus and other highly contagious diseases.

The machine has a long robotic arm attached to a base with wheels. It can perform some of the same medical examination tasks as doctors. For example, the device can perform ultrasounds, collect fluid samples from a person’s mouth and listen to sounds made by a patient’s organs.

Cameras record the robot’s activities, which are controlled remotely so doctors can avoid coming in close contact with infected patients. Doctors and other medical workers can operate the machine from a nearby room, or from much farther away.

Telemedicine

Telemedicine is crucial to the fight against COVID-19 because it reduces the risk of exposure for front-line health care professionals, other patients, and hospital visitors and lessens the on-site clinic burden. As 80% of COVID-19 patients experience only mild illness, hospitals and clinics have become swamped with concerned patients, many of whom may only have the common cold and could benefit from an initial online triage.

On top, telemedicine for monitoring of less-ill patients from the comfort of their own homes, again, reduces the possibility of virus spread. The set up will also serve as an alternative to short-supply isolation rooms.

We can add teleworking, and videoconferencing…a way to work from home…

I didn’t consider in this article the impact of the Covid-19 in the economy. Probably will be more traumatic than the pandemic. I believe as humans we must reinvent ourselves…as the Chinese say, a crisis is at the same time an opportunity…we cannot miss this opportunity.

Meanwhile, take care of yourselves following official guidelines, don’t panic, and do your best in caring for other people…

SOURCES CONSULTED:

Psychologist leads innovative approach to tackle psychological toll of COVID-19

https://www.apa.org/news/apa/2020/03/psychologist-covid-19

The Psychology of Uncertainty: How To Cope With COVID-19 Anxiety

https://www.forbes.com/sites/bryanrobinson/2020/03/12/the-psychology-of-uncertainty-how-to-cope-with-covid-19-anxiety/

Preventing COVID-19 Spread in Communities

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/index.html

WHO. Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak

https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

COVID-19 an opportunity for collaborative approaches to digital Technology

https://www.hinz.org.nz/news/492852/COVID-19-an-opportunity-for-collaborative-approaches-to-digital-technology.htm

Covid-19 diagnostic based on MIT technology might be tested on patient samples soon

http://news.mit.edu/2020/covid-19-diagnostic-test-prevention-0312

EU action against COVID-19

https://eeas.europa.eu/headquarters/headquarters-homepage/75968/eu-action-against-covid-19_en

How Digital Health Technology Can Help Manage The Coronavirus Outbreakhttps://medicalfuturist.com/how-digital-health-technology-can-help-manage-the-coronavirus-outbreak/

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