Coronavirus (COVID-19)? Q&A’s
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What is Coronavirus?
A coronavirus is a common virus that causes an infection of your respiratory system which includes your nose, sinuses, or upper throat. Most coronaviruses aren’t dangerous as you may not show any symptoms if infected by them or may get cold at the most.
What is ‘SARS-CoV-2’ aka ‘Covid-19 Virus’?
In early 2020, after a December 2019 outbreak in China, the World Health Organization (WHO) identified a new type of coronavirus named SARS-CoV-2 or Covid-19 virus or Wuhan Virus. This mutated version of coronavirus could infect faster and more deadly than other of its common forms.
How it Spreads?
Just like its other siblings (coronaviruses) it mainly spreads through person-to-person contact. The only difference is in the intensity of the infection.
When a sick person coughs or sneezes, droplets can go as far as 6 feet away. You can get infected when you swallow those droplets (unintentionally of course). If your immunity is strong you will remain asymptomatic otherwise you will start showing symptoms. Even if you remain asymptomatic, you can spread it to other people.
You can get infected by touching your mouth, nose, or possibly your eyes after touching infected surfaces.
The survival time of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on various surfaces is:
- Plastic or stainless steel: 2 to 3 days
- Cardboard: up to 24 hours
- Copper: 4 hours
So disinfect surfaces that you are most likely to touch frequently.
Can animals be affected by Coronavirus (COVID-19) virus? Can I get Covid infection from animals?
Some dogs and cats have also been tested positive for the virus. Till now there has been no evidence of animal to human transmission. But it can be passed from humans to animals.
Which other deadly coronaviruses are there?
You must have heard about the deadly Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and Sudden acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) forms. These two and SARS-CoV-2 belong to a group of seven coronaviruses.
Are there more than one strains of SARS-CoV-2?
SARS-CoV-2 already underwent 2 mutations according to a Chinese study. Two strains were found named L and S. The S was an older type, but the L type was more common in the early stages of the outbreak. Recently a new strain has been found in the UK, which is deadlier than their counterparts. It already underwent 2 mutations as we speak or read.
Are there any other mutations happening in Covid-19 virus?
They are happening in different locations like 501.V2 in South Africa, P681H in India. In fact, 14% of SARS-C0V-2 which is circulating in India is carrying this P681H mutation, especially in Maharashtra and West Bengal. Different mutants that evolved over time are as follows:
- SARS CoV2 (COVID19)- China, Wuhan (2019)
- B.1.1.7 (Alpha) – UK Variant (2020)
- B.1.351 (Beta) – South African (more spread, more infection)
- P.1 (Gamma) – Brazil Variant (2020)
- B.1.617.2 (Delta) – DOUBLE MUTANT VARIANT (DEC-MARCH 2021) – now the dominant strain of COVID-19 in multiple countries.
- B.1.617.2.1 (AY.1) and B.1.617.2.2 (AY.2) – The Delta plus variants
- B.1.618 – triple mutant, Bengal strain (April 2021)
- A deletion and two changes in spike protein
- deletion of H146 and Y145
- Mutation in E484K and D614G in spike protein
- Kappa variant – B.1.617.1 strain of SARS-CoV-2
- Lambda variant – C.37 strain, first identified in Peru in December 2020
- Epsilon variant (CAL.20C) – first detected in California in 2020. It has five defining variations, including a mutation in spike protein L452R.
- Mu (B.1.621) – first documented in Colombia, Jan-2021
- Omicron (B.1.1.529) – first reported from South Africa on 24th November, 2021. It was designated as variant of concern on 26th Nov,2021 and now documented in Multiple countries.
WHO is tracking all variants of Covid-19. A complete list of variants is present here Tracking SARS-CoV-2 variants
How long will the Coronavirus (COVID-19) last?
Well, it depends. It depends on many factors like public following safety protocols, the pace at which research is being done, availability of the vaccine, etc.
Already more than 100 vaccine candidates are in various stages of development and testing. This process usually takes years. Researchers are speeding it up as much as they can, and some vaccines are already in late-stage trials. As we speak vaccines are now being given in many developed counties like the US, UK. In India, it’s not yet available for public immunization.
What are the Symptoms of Coronavirus (COVID-19)?
Following are the most common symptoms which have been observed over time:
- Shortness of breath
- Trouble breathing
- Chills, sometimes with shaking
- Body aches
- Sore throat
- Congestion/runny nose
- Loss of smell or taste
What are the lethal complications SARS-CoV-2 can cause?
If the infection is severe then the virus can cause pneumonia, respiratory failure, heart problems, liver problems, septic shock, and death. In some people, Stroke has also been reported who have COVID-19 especially those who are suffering from other co-morbidities.
Some people who were hospitalized for COVID-19 also had dangerous blood clots, including in their legs, lungs, and arteries.
These deadly complications are due to a condition known as cytokine release syndrome or a cytokine storm. It is the response of the body which is triggered by infection. Inflammatory proteins are released in large amounts in the blood to kill the virus but that storm causes damage to the body tissues as well thus causing damage to your organs too.
Long-term complications of COVID-19 infection include interstitial lung fibrosis, kidney impairment, and diabetes mellitus. These complications are seen even amongst people who had a mild course of acute illness.
When should I contact medical services?
If you or any of your knowns show these symptoms then you should immediately contact medical emergency services of your location, especially those which are formed to combat coronavirus pandemic.
- Trouble breathing or shortness of breath
- Ongoing chest pain or pressure
- New confusion
- Can’t wake up fully
- Bluish lips or face
When symptoms will start to show if I get infected with the virus?
If you’re infected, symptoms can show up in as few as 2 days or as many as 14. It varies from person to person.
What can I do if I get infected?
Adopt the following measures:
- Stay home. Even with mild symptoms like a headache and runny nose, don’t bother going outside. Stay home so that doctors can focus seriously ill patients. Don’t infect others unintentionally by going outside. Quarantine yourself which means stay in a separate room away from other people in your home. If you have a separate bathroom, reserve it for yourself till you get well.
- If you have trouble in breathing, call your doctor or emergency medical number of your area. You may need urgent help. Call doctors ahead so they get prepared in advance.
- Stay updated with news on COVID-19 and follow all protocols as advised.
What are various Helpline Numbers for Coronavirus (COVID-19) in India?
Central Helpline Number: +91-11-23978046
Toll-Free – 1075
Coronavirus (COVID-19) care Helpline Numbers of States & Union Territories (UTs)
1. Andhra Pradesh – 0866-2410978
2. Arunachal Pradesh – 9436055743
3. Assam – 6913347770
4. Bihar – 104
5. Chhattisgarh – 104
6. Goa – 104
7. Gujarat – 104
8. Haryana – 8558893911
9. Himachal Pradesh – 104
10. Jharkhand – 104
11. Karnataka – 104
12. Kerala – 0471-2552056
13. Madhya Pradesh – 104
14. Maharashtra – 020-26127394
15. Manipur – 3852411668
16. Meghalaya – 108
17. Mizoram – 102
18. Nagaland – 7005539653
19. Odisha – 9439994859
20. Punjab – 104
21. Rajasthan – 0141-2225624
22. Sikkim – 104
23. Tamil Nadu – 044-29510500
24. Telangana – 104
25. Tripura – 0381-2315879
26. Uttarakhand – 104
27. Uttar Pradesh – 18001805145
28. West Bengal – 1800313444222, 03323412600,
Union Territory (UT) Helpline Nos.
1. Andaman and Nicobar Islands – 03192-232102
2. Chandigarh – 9779558282
3. Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu – 104
4. Delhi – 011-22307145
5. Jammu & Kashmir – 01912520982, 0194-2440283
6. Ladakh – 01982256462
7. Lakshadweep – 104
8. Puducherry -104
Is Coronavirus (COVID-19) worse than the flu?
Yes. It can cause life-threatening complications as stated above. Flu at most will cause cold.
Is Coronavirus (COVID-19) seasonal like the flu?
Weather changes won’t matter as much according to the experts. In the past pandemics also, outbreaks have occurred throughout the season.
What Caused this COVID-19 pandemic?
No one is completely sure. Many varieties of coronavirus are there. They’re common in people and in animals including bats, camels, cats, and cattle. SARS-CoV-2, the villain behind the COVID-19 pandemic, is similar to MERS and SARS. They all came from bats.
What are the risk factors of Coronavirus?
For younger people symptoms are mild but they can get dangerous for older people.
Your chances of getting Covid-19 infection will increase many folds if you are suffering from any of the following diseases:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- A weakened immune system because of an organ transplant
- Chronic kidney disease
- Sickle cell disease
- Heart failure or coronary artery disease
In which medical conditions chances of Covid-19 complications increase?
You are more likely to suffer from Covid-19 related complications if you already suffering from:
- High blood pressure
- Cerebrovascular diseases
- Cystic fibrosis
- Pulmonary fibrosis
- Liver disease
What is a community spread?
Community spread occurs when someone from the community gets an infection without any history of travel or contact with the covid-19 patient. No source of infection can be detected.
In February 2020, the CDC confirmed the first instance of community spread in the U.S. California in a person who had not traveled to an affected area or been exposed to someone with the disease.
How contagious is SARS-CoV-2?
The rate of transmission is relatively higher than other forms of the virus. A single infected person can spread the infection to other 2 persons. According to the study, one single case can spread the infection to between 4.7 and 6.6 other people. The average seasonal flu will pass it to between 1.1 and 2.3 others.
Covid can be transmitted if you get within 6 feet of someone, who is infectious, for approximately 15 minutes (throughout the day, not a single time).
Can coronavirus be transmitted through groceries, packages, or food?
Chances are much less than the person-to-person transmission. No evidence is there yet which has shown transmission of COVID-19 from food or food containers.
Before and after bringing things into your home, Do wash your hands for at least 20 seconds You can wash the packaging with soap and water, as long as the food is not affected.
How Covid-19 is diagnosed?
A swab test is done to see whether you are infected or not. The testing person will put a swab up your nose to get a sample from the back of your nose and throat. The sample is then tested in the lab with different methods, depending on the region and availability of that method.
The test is positive when the virus is found. You may be tested negative which could mean either you are not infected or the viral load is much less to be detected which usually happens early in an infection. Normally the lab needs 24 hours to get results done.
How can I prevent Coronavirus infection?
Adopt the following measures:
- Use soap and water to wash your hands, if not available then use an alcohol-based sanitizer.
- Follow Social Distancing Protocol – Stay at least 6 feet away from others.
- Cover your nose and mouth while in public. This is in addition to social distancing.
- Avoid face covering on anyone who is:
- an infant or under 2 years old
- Have breathing problems
- Avoid touching your face. You may have the virus on your hand from touching surfaces.
- Clean and disinfect. Use gloves for cleaning purposes and throw them away when you’re done.
According to some experts, there is no role of herbal tea in preventing Covid-19 infections Some latest studies have suggested the role of bioactive compounds in tea and supplements which can help in recovering from Covid-19.
Can a face mask protect me from infection?
It may add an extra layer of security. Asymptomatic people can spread the infection while talking, sneezing, singing.
Don’t use surgical masks and N95 masks. They are reserved for healthcare professionals.
Is it safe to travel during a pandemic?
Avoid as much as you can.
Ask these questions to yourself and then decide:
- Whether covid cases are increasing where you’re going?
- WIll there be any close contact with other people during the trip?
- Do you come under high-risk group?
- Do you live with people who have serious medical conditions?
- What will be the hygiene of the place where you staying?
- What about access to food and other basic needs?
If you have no choice but to go then always follow protocol. Cover your face in public, Wash your hands often, and don’t touch your face.
What treatment options are available for Coronavirus (COVID-19)?
There’s no specific treatment for COVID-19. Mild cases are given symptomatic treatment to ease their symptoms, like rest, fluids, and fever control. Over-the-counter medicine for a sore throat, body aches, and fever can be used.
You should not give aspirin to your children or teenager.
According to the National Institutes of Health people who are infected with the virus can use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or acetaminophen as usual. Antibiotics are not going to help at all because they treat bacteria, not viruses. Antibiotics are given to treat other bacterial, fungal infections that came along with the disease.
Remdesivir was the first medicine that was approved by the FDA for the treatment of hospitalized COVID-19 patients. It was originally developed to treat Ebola, some studies show the benefit. Yet there are many studies which showed that remdesivir has no protective role. Many clinical trials are underway to explore treatments used for other conditions that could fight COVID-19 and to develop new ones.
Trials are underway for tocilizumab, another medication used to treat autoimmune conditions. And the FDA is also allowing clinical trials and hospital use of blood plasma from people who’ve had COVID-19 and recovered to help others build immunity. You’ll hear this called convalescent plasma. Currently, evidence of its effectiveness is limited.
Two combinations, anti-SARS-CoV-2 monoclonal antibody (mAb) products (bamlanivimab plus etesevimab and casirivimab plus imdevimab) and a single mAb (sotrovimab) have been shown to reduce the risk of hospitalization and death in the outpatient setting in those with mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms and certain risk factors for disease progression. As a result, these products have received Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of COVID-19 in these individuals, as well as in those with other risk factors for progression that have been identified in population-based studies. There are no comparative data to determine whether there are differences in clinical efficacy or safety between these products.
Anti-malarial drugs like hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine were also tried but they failed to show any benefit.
Steroid medications are being used including dexamethasone. More studies on effectiveness are still being conducted. In a new study, the antiviral agent Plitidepsin (Aplidin) is shown to block proliferation of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in different cell lines and in the lungs of mice. Plitidepsin was found to be nearly 28-fold stronger than that of remdesivir against SARS-CoV-2 in vitro research. Plitidepsin works by inhibiting the eEF1A protein in the host, not the virus, which could be an advantage because it avoids problems associated with future viral resistance. The study was published online on January 25 in Science.
Update: WHO, on 14th January 2022, has recommended two new drugs for COVID-19, providing yet more options for treating the disease.
The first drug, Baricitinib, is strongly recommended for patients with severe or critical COVID-19. It is part of a class of drugs called Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors that suppress the overstimulation of the immune system. Baricitinib is an oral drug, used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. It provides an alternative to other arthritis drugs called Interleukin-6 receptor blockers. It is recommended to be given in combination with corticosteroids.
WHO has also conditionally recommended the use of a monoclonal antibody drug, sotrovimab, for treating mild or moderate COVID-19 in patients who are at high risk of hospitalization. This includes patients who are older, immunocompromised, have underlying conditions like diabetes, hypertension, and obesity, and those unvaccinated.
Sotrovimab is an alternative to casirivimab-imdevimab, a monoclonal antibody cocktail recommended by WHO in September 2021. Studies are ongoing on the effectiveness of monoclonal antibodies against Omicron but early laboratory studies show that sotrovimab retains its activity.
The panel of experts developing the guidelines also looked at two other drugs for severe and critical COVID-19: ruxolitinib and tofacitinib. Given their uncertain effects, WHO made a conditional recommendation against their use.
Is there a cure for the new Coronavirus (COVID-19)?
There’s no cure yet, but researchers are working hard to find one.
What is the recovery rate for Coronavirus (COVID-19)?
Estimated to be between 97% and 99.75%.
Can you get the Coronavirus (COVID-19) twice?
Reinfection has been reported in a few cases. Once your immunity goes away there is always a chance of reinfection. Immunity is expected to last at least 3-4 months.
What about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine?
Many vaccines are in various stages of development and testing. Every country and pharma company including their researchers are trying to speed up this process and as of now many of the vaccines are in their 3rd clinical phase trials and some of them are being given to people while testing their efficacy and safety. Also, you need more than one dose for it to work.
Until we know more about the virus, these safety guidelines are the best way to prevent COVID-19.
- Sputnik V got regulatory approval in Russia on 11th August 2020.
- Pfizer vaccine got emergency regulatory approval in the UK on December 1st, 2020
- Immunization Drive for Covid-19 Vaccine started in INDIA on 16th January 2021 with 2 vaccines – Covaxin and Covishield Vaccine.
Can pregnant and breastfeeding women take covid-19 vaccination?
Although the absolute risk of severe COVID-19 in pregnancy remains low, it is now established that pregnant women are at increased risk of severe COVID-19-associated illness compared with non-pregnant women. Such illness can require hospitalization, intensive care unit admission, mechanical ventilation, and even cause death. Thus, preventing critical COVID-19 infection is of paramount importance for both the mother and her fetus.
Most countries have the availability of COVID-19 vaccines and are offering them to priority groups. Existing COVID-19 vaccines use different technologies, including messenger RNA (mRNA), viral vectors, or recombinant proteins manufactured in a baculovirus system that is co-formulated with adjuvants. Clear guidance is needed on whether pregnant and breastfeeding women should receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
Given that clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines specifically in pregnant women have not yet been conducted (some are underway or planned soon), limited data are available on their efficacy and safety during pregnancy. Hence, there is not sufficient evidence to recommend the routine use of COVID-19 vaccines for pregnant or breastfeeding women. Limited data from animal studies are reassuring and do not indicate direct or indirect harmful effects on embryo/fetal development or pregnancy. Additional reassuring data come from a statement, released in the USA in the first week of February, that 20,000 pregnant women had been vaccinated with no alarming signs reported.
FIGO, therefore, considers that there are no risks – actual or theoretical – that would outweigh the potential benefits of vaccination for pregnant women. FIGO support offering COVID-19 vaccination to pregnant and breastfeeding women.
UPDATE: Although no clinical trials have been done in pregnant females, In the USA in February 2021, 20000 pregnant females were given covid-19 vaccination with no alarming signs reported. FIGO (The International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics) recommends the covid-19 vaccination to pregnant females and breastfeeding women. Current Vaccines are based on non-live viruses which are usually safe in pregnancy.
According to a recent update, India Government has issued new guidelines in which they have allowed pregnant and lactating mothers to take covid vaccination. Do consult your doctor before getting covid vaccination.
Important considerations when offering the vaccine should include the:
- level of activity of the virus in the local community
- potential efficacy of the vaccine
- lack of safety data specific to its use in pregnancy
- risk and potential severity of maternal disease, including the possible effects of the disease on the fetus (preterm birth) and newborn
- timing of vaccination during pregnancy.
Counseling should also address the expected side effects that are considered a normal part of the body’s reaction to the vaccine, which is more prevalent among younger people due to the overreaction of the immune system. Fever, one of the most common side effects reported with COVID-19 vaccines, can be managed by acetaminophen, which is considered safe during pregnancy and should not theoretically impact the antibody response to COVID-19 vaccines. Women should be particularly reassured that the existing COVID-19 vaccines are not live virus vaccines and that the mRNA vaccines do not cause any genetic changes since they do not alter human DNA.
There is currently no preference for the use of a particular COVID-19 vaccine, but pregnant women who agree to be vaccinated should be advised to complete their two-dose series (where applicable) with the same vaccine product. It is advisable that a COVID-19 vaccine series should be administered without any other vaccine, with a minimum interval of 14 days before or after administration of any other vaccine. Hence, vaccines including Tdap (tetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid, and acellular pertussis) and influenza, which are routinely and safely offered during pregnancy, should be deferred for 14 days from the administration of COVID-19 vaccines.
Health care providers are urged to continue to advise their pregnant patients that vaccination against influenza is safe throughout pregnancy and is recommended during the influenza season to protect both the woman and fetus from the adverse effects of becoming seriously ill with flu during pregnancy, particularly so during the COVID-19 pandemic. The practice of offering the Tdap vaccine between the 27th and 36th weeks of pregnancy in each pregnancy should also continue to be followed. Pregnant women who decline vaccination against COVID-19 should be supported in their decision and should be updated with new evidence when it becomes available.
Women planning their pregnancy can take the COVID-19 vaccine if they choose to do so. Routine testing for pregnancy before COVID-19 vaccination is not recommended. Women who are trying to become pregnant do not need to postpone pregnancy after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.
Vaccine administration for breastfeeding women
Breastfeeding confers many health benefits to the mother and newborn. COVID-19 vaccines are believed to pose minimal to no potential risk to the newborn through breastmilk. Based on previously administered vaccines, there is the potential for the direct neonatal benefit if the vaccine-stimulated immunoglobulin A proves to pass through breastmilk. For breastfeeding women, therefore, the COVID-19 vaccine can be offered if the mother meets the criteria based on prioritization groups, such as a breastfeeding health care provider.
Do I need to take Covid vaccination if I have recovered from Covid infection?
Yes. The antibodies formed during covid infection won’t last for long. You need to get vaccinated even after full recovery.
How long should you wait for Covid vaccination after recovering from Covid-19 infection?
Wait for 6 months after recovery.
Do you need booster dose after receiving 2 doses of covid vaccination ?
No such recommendation has been made yet. 2 doses are enough right now.
How long it takes to develop antibodies after taking covid vaccination?
It takes 2-4 weeks for antibodies to fully develop after getting vaccinated.
Should I take the 2nd dose of Covid Vaccine if I Tested positive for COVID19 after taking the 1st dose of COVID19 Vaccine?
Yes, You should definitely take the 2nd dose of Covid19 Vaccine. However, you should wait for at least 4-8 weeks after recovering from the Covid19 infection.
What is the difference between Variant of Interest and Variant of Concern?
Variant of Interest: A COVID-19 variant with specific genetic markers that have been associated with changes to receptor binding, reduced neutralization from vaccination, reduced efficacy of treatments, potential diagnostic impact, or increased transmissibility and virulence.
Variant of Concern: A variant for which there is evidence of increased transmissibility, increased hospitalizations or deaths, a significant reduction in neutralization by vaccination/previous infection, reduced efficacy of treatments, diagnostic detection failures.
How to Register for Covid-19 Vaccination?
Check your nearest vaccination center and slots availability —>>> REGISTER HERE