Humanity has been asking itself this big question for a while now. The return of an epidemic, even a pandemic, seemed inevitable. However, it remained difficult to predict, given all the factors to be considered: ecological, societal, biological, and so on. Moreover, the worrying and already existing diseases were unfortunately not missing, such as Ebola or the Zika virus…
In 2020, we had the answer to this big question with the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19). This one is part of the great family of coronaviruses, that is to say, pathogenic viruses that affect humans with different diseases, for example, a so-called “classical” cold, but also serious pulmonary infections that can cause severe acute respiratory syndromes.
The exact origin of this coronavirus has not been established beyond any doubt, but several elements lead us to believe that it all started in China.
At the end of 2019, several cases of pneumonia were reported in China, specifically in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province (which is located in the center of the country). The first cases were reported among customers of the Wuhan fish market, where other animal species such as birds, snakes, and rabbits are also sold. Illegal sales of bats and other animals have also been reported. Since COVID-19 is an animal disease transmissible to humans, the disease may have emerged in this way. After attacking China, COVID-19 began to take off and travel, wreaking havoc in Italy and Iran. Now, no country seems to be spared.
According to WHO data (World Health Organization), as of September 2020, there have been more than 25 million cases worldwide and over 800,000 deaths. The most affected countries in terms of the number of cases and deaths are the United States, India, and Brazil.
There are now different variants of the virus, namely those from the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Brazil. These appear to be more contagious and dangerous. The WHO is also looking at the impact of the long COVID, which affects some individuals who have recovered but who retain the after-effects of the disease.
The disease is transmitted from one infected person to another through close and prolonged contact. An individual, even an asymptomatic one, can transmit the virus through respiratory droplets by talking, coughing, or sneezing. Airborne transmission, through smaller airborne droplets, is also possible.
A worldwide vaccination campaign is underway. Depending on the country, vaccination is more or less advanced. Approximately 70% of the world’s population will need to be vaccinated in order to reach a safe level of immunity and to avoid the emergence of other variants.