7 Fascinating Facts You Might Not Know About Covid-19
Although Covid-19 is part of the ‘coronavirus’ family which includes many forms of the common cold and flu, it has a few key differences which make it particularly effective – and something to certainly watch out for.
1) It hides inside your body
When you come into contact with most viruses you will swiftly notice symptoms (such as sneezing, coughing, a headache or fever) which are created as your immune system fights back, but this coronavirus has found a way to switch off the body’s alarm system and disguise itself as it replicates so by the time your immune system notices (and symptoms start to flare up) it will already have got a good hold and is much harder to suppress.
2) It is much more dangerous for men
Men of all ages are more likely to experience complications of Covid-19. This is partly because men have weaker immune systems (a number of important immune genes are found on the X chromosome – women have two, but men have only one), female hormones could offer a degree of protection, but partly because men are more likely to have higher rates of obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease. These underlying conditions put men at greater risk of dying from Covid-19.
3) You are more likely to be infected at home
That’s because prolonged face-to-face contact is the easiest way for the virus to jump from one person to another, and that’s more likely to happen at home. The next most likely place for infection is unventilated rooms (such as lifts or on public transport). Coronavirus transmission is an indoor phenomenon that works in mysterious ways. Outdoor transmission, on the other hand, is a rarity. Your risk is dramatically reduced outside because droplets released from an infected person are quickly dispersed in air currents and killed by ultraviolet light (even on a cloudy day).1
4) Children aren’t spreaders
Children spread ordinary colds and flu like wildfire but they seem to be protected from coronavirus, probably because they have fewer of the special receptors along their throat and inside the nose which this virus latches on to. Unless you have a pre-existing health condition, the odds of dying from Covid-19, if you are under 30, are less than a thousand to one. However, the over-60s have weaker immune systems which makes them more vulnerable. Being overweight increases the risk, but the very good news is, losing weight will support your immune system.
5) The biggest danger isn’t the virus, but your body’s response to it
A strong and healthy immune system will get to work, tackling the virus before it can spread too fast around your body. But if your immune system is weak it is likely to over-react and this can create what doctors call a ‘cytokine storm’ when various soldiers in your immune system army (including attack molecules called cytokines) get carried away and accidentally damage healthy tissue. This is what causes the lung damage and breathing difficulties and can ultimately lead to organ failure. Luckily there are many steps you can take to bolster your immune system.
6) There are over 100 different vaccines currently being developed
Vaccines normally take years, if not decades, to create and test but around the world scientists are throwing all their energies into developing a vaccine for Covid-19. The good news is that with so many vaccines against Covid-19 in development, and with so much money behind them, it is possible that at least one will come through the scrupulous testing required, if not by the end of 2020, certainly by 2021.
7) Singing spreads the virus more effectively than coughing
Singing seems to be a frighteningly efficient way to spread the virus. When one singer in a 121 members choir in Washington State, USA turned up for choir practise unknowingly harbouring the virus, he infected 45 others, two of which died. Saying “aah” for 30 seconds releases more micron-scale particles than does 30 seconds of coughing. That’s one big reason why Church services, wedding and funerals have been put on hold. Wearing a mask or face covering can help, but massed choirs might be the last semblance of our old life to return.