Without getting too technical, let’s talk about what covid-19 actually is. I have always felt less anxious about something when I know more about it- so hopefully this knowledge will empower you! COVID-19 actually is an acronym- it stands for coronavirus infectious disease, 2019. A coronavirus is a family of viruses- there are several types that affect both animals and humans. They usually affect the respiratory tract and can cause mild symptoms (common cold) to severe (like SARS/MERS/COVID).
The current hypothesis surrounding covid is that it actually ‘jumped’ from an animal called pangolin, to humans. When a virus becomes able to infect a new type of animal, in this case humans, it often will cause more significant disease in that new animal, as it has never seen anything like it before. The virus therefore starts attacking in a big way – we call that a big inflammatory response. What does this mean? Basically, the body ‘goes crazy’ when it reacts to this new virus. The immune system goes overboard and this ends up causing more harm than good. Fever, high heart rate, low blood pressure→ in severe cases, this can lead to organ failure and death. What makes covid-19 so scary is that we believe that it activates the body’s blood clotting system and makes it go crazy as well. So, even without severe respiratory symptoms, we are seeing otherwise healthy patients that develop strokes, heart attacks, kidney failure, limb loss from blood clots, etc.
What does it mean for you?
With what I just said, it probably makes most people just want to curl into a ball and wait for this to go away. I don’t blame you, I honestly feel the same way on some days. The good news is that, for most people, covid will NOT cause significant symptoms. This bears repeating, so let me repeat– Covid will not cause any major illness in most people.
It will act just like it’s cousins, the milder coronaviruses, have done, and cause symptoms of the common cold like coughing and fever. In some people, it may even enter the body and not cause any symptoms at all.
So you might be thinking, if the odds are that I’ll be just fine, why should we be sheltering at home? Why should we be wearing masks? I’ll probably be just fine. The problem is, scientists don’t know exactly why some people get so sick and others don’t. Sure, there are some known risk factors (obesity, diabetes, immunosuppression, elderly folks), but we’re finding that there are cases of healthy individuals in their 20s-40s who have succumbed to covid. Would you be willing to risk your own or your family or friends’ lives? Staying at home limits our contact with others, especially for the (likely) large percentage of us that have minimal or no symptoms. Wearing a cloth or surgical mask helps prevent us from (unknowingly) spreading disease to others. Wearing an N95 mask (properly) does the above and also protects the wearer to some extent.
Another reason to avoid getting infected is to allow the medical researchers like my husband, do their job and find a vaccine and other treatments for it. Finally, the last reason to avoid it is to give hospitals some breathing room and not crowd it. Crowding hospitals will not only mean less doctors, nurses and equipment for coronavirus treatment but also for other conditions that people come to the hospital for.
“We can think of avoiding infection with a simple phrase: time, space, people, place,”
“Always expose yourself for as little time as possible, choose outdoors over indoor, always choose masking over not masking and always choose more space for fewer people over a smaller space.”
So, stay safe and remember that even if you do get infected, very likely it may not even land you into the hospital. If you have it, think of it as an early “free” pass to not get the infection again for years! At least, that is what science says.