As this is being written, more than 9.49 million cases of Covid-19 have been reported in 188 countries, resulting in 484,000 deaths. Although Covid-19, which stands for "Coronavirus-2019" is the name of the disease, the virus that causes it is called Severe Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2 or SARS-coV-2. This disease was thought to emanate out of Wuhan, China, where the first cases were identified in December, 2019. The virus is thought to have evolved from an animal origin. Some suspect that the origin of the disease was a live animal wholesale seafood market in Wuhan. After the first few cases, the disease was wrongly identified as a type of pneumonia, or a new outbreak of a previous coronavirus disease, SARS. The symptoms of the disease, fever, malaise, dry cough, and problems with breathing did resemble viral pneumonia, which led to it being initially called "Wuhan pneumonia." But it soon became apparent that the disease was actually caused by a coronavirus, the seventh member of the coronavirus family to infect humans. By March, the disease, now called Covid-19, was officially declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. Pandemic refers to the fact that by that time, Covid-19 had spread around the world. Covid-19 is the fifth pandemic since the 1918 flu epidemic, and shares a number of features with that first pandemic, although the 1918 flu pandemic caused far more deaths worldwide--so far. Other pandemics besides the 1918 flu epidemic have included the 1957 Asian flu epidemic;the 1968 Hong Kong flu; and the the H1N1 pandemic flu of 2009. The 1918 flu epidemic led to 50 million deaths worldwide; the 1957 flu epidemic caused 1.5 million deaths; the 1968 Hong Kong flu caused 1 million deaths; and the h1N1 flu caused 300,000 deaths.
Most other coronavirus infections cause relatively minor effects, mostly upper respiratory infections, such as that caused by the common cold, itself a coronavirus. The way that SARS-coV-2 infects humans is that a spike found on the viral surface called the "S spike," binds to the angiotensin-converting enzyme-2 (ACE-2), which allows it to gain entry into cells, mainly in the upper respiratory tract. However, Covid-19 has turned up in a number of other organs and tissues of the body, including the heart and brain. It has an affinity to attack the endothelium, or the lining of blood vessels, where it induces blood clotting that can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Many of those who express skepticism about the danger of Covid-19 like to say that many who died of heart attacks were wrongly attributed to having died from Covid-19. But that is incorrect, since it was the Covid-19 that led to conditions that precipitated the heart attack. So the person did die from Covid-19 rather than a heart attack.
Join today and get access to this article and all past and present Newsletters, since September 2014. Each month you’ll get a new issue sent to your inbox. Subscribe today for only $10/month!