General information about

CORONAVIRUS
AND COVID-19

Coronavirus:

Origin of the current outbreak and previous history

 

On December 31, 2019 the Health Commission of Wuhan (Hubei, China) informed about a group of 27 cases of pneumonia of an unknown aetiology. The first symptoms of the first case took place on December 8, 2019. On January 7, 2020 Chinese authorities identified the causing agent of the outbreak: a new type of virus coming from the Coronaviridae family (1). On January, 30 the WHO declared the outbreak caused by the new coronavirus a public health emergency of international concern and on March 11 declared the state of pandemic.

What are coronaviruses?

Commonly called coronaviruses, these viruses are an extensive subfamily of viruses (Orthocoronavirinae) that can cause diseases to both animals and humans. Some types of coronaviruses are zoonotic, which means they can be transmitted from animals to humans.

How many coronaviruses infecting humans are there?

Currently (May 2020) there are seven coronaviruses with the potential to infect humans. It is known that they cause breathing infections, from a common cold to more serious illnesses, like the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). (2-3)

Which coronavirus tests are carried out in Madrid to diagnose Covid-19?

There are different types of coronavirus tests to detect SARS-CoV-2, causing covid-19. Our laboratory in Madrid is specialized in coronavirus tests: the RT-PCR test plainly detects the presence of the virus. On the other hand, serological tests react to antibodies that our immune system generates to fight SARS-CoV-2.

SARS-CoV-2, the latest coronavirus identified

SARS-CoV-2 is the name of the recently identified coronavirus that infects humans. The International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses chose the name and it is very similar to the name of another coronavirus (SARS-CoV) responsible for the SARS outbreak (severe acute respiratory syndrome) of 2003, precisely due to its genetic link (4-5)

Source of infection of SARS-CoV-2

The most likely primary source of the disease produced by SARS-CoV-2 comes from animals. The most accepted hypothesis nowadays is that the virus reservoir is a bat; while it is still being investigated which host animal was an intermediary (it has been suggested that this animal could have been the pangolin, but no firm conclusion has been drawn). . (1)

As previously mentioned, some types of coronavirus can be transmitted between animals and humans. The way the virus could have been transmitted from the animal source to the first human cases is still unknown, although it seems to have been a direct contact with infected animals or their secretions, probably through respiratory secretions or material coming from their digestive system. (1)

Morphological characteristics of SARS-CoV-2

SARS-CoV-2 has a spherical shape that reminds of a crown. Its size is 90-120 nm (10,000 times smaller than the head of a pin) and has a lipid membrane with membrane proteins (M) and another one wrapped with proteins in the wrap (E), apart from the spicule proteins (S). The genetic material comes in the shape of RNA. The virus is made of other molecules but the ones mentioned, together with the genetic material, are the ones that most viral detection tests can detect.

What’s Covid-19?

Covid-19 is the infectious disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 and after an extraordinary meeting in which the outbreak was evaluated, as well as its evolution, level of spread, severity, etc. on Wednesday, March 11 2020, the WHO declared the global pandemic due to this disease. (3-6)

WHY THE DISEASE CAUSED BY SARS-COV-2 IS CALLED COVID-19?

The name of the disease (covid-19) is formed by an acronym of Coronavirus Disease. The number 19 comes from the year in which the first human infected of SARS-CoV-2 was detected and developed the disease, 2019

HOW IS COVID-19 DIAGNOSED?

Although several symptoms have been specified, the most effective way to explicitly diagnose covid-19 is through viral detection tests carried out in laboratories: the coronavirus detection tests.

From the moment covid-19 reached the pandemic level, one of the priorities was to diagnose affected people mainly with PCR tests, which detect the presence of the virus in human organism by analysing fluids in the larynx.

WHY ARE DETECTION TESTS IMPORTANT TO DIAGNOSE COVID-19?

Two main reasons: to confirm an infection and to isolate infected people. Thus we can minimize the expansion of this coronavirus. Early detection, moreover, reduces the risk of serious complications.

SARS-COV-2 TRANSMISSION MECHANISM AMONG HUMANS

The route of transmission among humans is through secretions from infected people, mainly by direct contact with respiratory droplets (droplets of a size around 5 microns can be transmitted at a distance of 2 metres) when talking, sneezing or exhaling. At first, another route of transmission was considered: through hands or contaminated objects with these secretions. Although there is no conclusive evidence for this hypothesis, it has not been excluded either, that’s why the WHO insists on frequently disinfecting hands and contact surfaces. (1-3)

Basic protection measures
to prevent contracting covid-19
(1-3)

Maintain security distance among people: It has been established around 2 meters.

Wash your hands frequently in a meticulous way either with soap and water or with an alcohol based disinfectant solution.

Take hygiene precaution measures related to breathing: When coughing or sneezing, cover your nose and mouth with your elbow or with a disposable tissue and throw it away after its use.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, as hands facilitate transmission.

Use a mask when it is not possible to maintain safety distance or when healthcare authorities say so.

Clean regularly the surfaces you constantly touch.

Maintain security distance among people: It has been established around 2 meters.

Wash your hands frequently in a meticulous way either with soap and water or with an alcohol based disinfectant solution.

Take hygiene precaution measures related to breathing: When coughing or sneezing, cover your nose and mouth with your elbow or with a disposable tissue and throw it away after its use.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, as hands facilitate transmission.

Use a mask when it is not possible to maintain safety distance or when healthcare authorities say so.

Clean regularly the surfaces you constantly touch.

Keep yourself up to date and follow recommendations from health professionals:
Decalogue from the department on health on how to respond if you experience symptoms related to covid-19.

Do you want to know more about coronavirus tests?

ATimmunolab
DIAGNOSIS OF COVID-19

Experts in RT-PCR test

The RT-PCR test detects SARS-CoV-2 really early. Let us explain why it is the most efficient diagnostic test to stop the spread of covid-19.