Origins and transmission of COVID-19

There has been much speculation about the origin of the SARS-Cov-2 coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Some of these include conspiracy theories about whether this was a bio-weapon gone wrong, and others that it derives from bats.

It would appear the origin is definitely less malign than the conspiracy theorists would have you believe. A detailed analysis by Andersen et al from The Scripps Research Institute “clearly show that SARS-CoV-2 is not a laboratory construct or a purposefully manipulated virus”.

The research, published in Nature Medicine, also shows the current virus strain is likely to have jumped from the endangered Pangolin species to humans as a result of them being present in the “wet markets” of Wuhan, Hubei province, China.

It’s then likely to have mutated in humans and become more dangerous.

For those like me who hadn’t really studied exotic animals, Pangolins are scale-covered mammals and can sell for thousands of dollars each. 

Despite an international trade ban, Pangolins continue to be illegally poached, transported and sold at markets with their meat being considered a delicacy and their unique keratin scales used in traditional Asian medicines.

SARS-Cov-2 transmission

To date, there are 8 known examples of coronaviruses crossing from animals to humans, however, this has been the most infectious.

In 2002 and 2003, SARS-Cov-1 infected more than 8000 people and was eradicated by intensive contact tracing and case isolation measures, with no cases having been detected since 2004. SARS-Cov-2 is closely related to SARS-Cov-1 and recent research from NIH scientists shows that both coronaviruses are stable on various surfaces for a similar amount of time.

The research, published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that SARS-Cov-2 was detectable in aerosols for up to three hours, up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel!

This supports emerging evidence that suggests people infected with SARS-CoV-2 might be spreading the virus before symptoms present themselves.

This makes the “identify and isolate” disease control measures that were effective against SARS-CoV-1 less effective.

Wash your hands, don't touch your face!

As per my last note on the subject, social distancing and isolation are going to be crucially important in “flattening the curve”, washing your hands properly is also of vital importance.

To help you wash your hands properly have put together a tool that allows you to create your own hand-washing technique posters. 

Would love to hear your suggestions for other lyrics to wash your hands to!

Stay safe and look after each other!