Your best foundation of safety during a viral pandemic is to understand what the virus that you’re faced with is. Coronaviruses can cause respiratory illnesses in mammals like us. Some cause mild diseases with symptoms like the common cold and others can cause more serious illnesses like SARS, MERS, and COVID-19. Viruses also have the ability to adapt to their hosts and to develop new properties over time. This property of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is thought to have been how it left its wild animal population and became established in humans.
Although other coronaviruses have caused worldwide scares recently (SARS, MERS), this is the first serious illness from a coronavirus to become so widespread. Epidemiologists and government leaders look back at measures to contain the 1918 influenza pandemic to get ideas of how to contain COVID-19. The Spanish flu, however, didn’t end with any pill or hospital treatment.
It’s cliche, but the best treatment for COVID-19 is prevention. There is no cure yet and as I write this, there are only 2 medications that have been shown to diminish the severity of COVID-19, and neither of those is a “cure.” We must be patient during this pandemic because it will be a long time before there is herd immunity and there may never be a cure or effective vaccine, although we all hope otherwise.
First, Don’t Panic, For There is Hope
Though there are no specific dates in mind, scientists are confident that humanity will survive COVID-19. Although images of body bags and packed ICU’s dominate the media, you must remember that these outlets make money off of making things look horrible. A recent news piece in Nature, the leading scientific journal in the world, says that numerous studies show that 99-99.5% of people with the infection will survive.
There’s no age group or demographic more likely than another to contract COVID-19. Age (>50), male sex, obesity, and underlying illness (heart, lung, liver, and kidney disease) are the major risk factors for doing worse from COVID-19 according to a paper published on 6/1.
The best ways to avoid contracting the illness are to limit contact with people outside your household, wash your hands frequently, and wear a mask when around others.