The new ‘kid’ in the block; COVID-19

The world was gripped by the outbreak of a disease called Novel Coronavirus Disease which made normal life impos sible for the people. The year 2020 will be remembered by most people as ‘an nus horribilis.”

On 11 March 2020, WHO declared Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) outbreak as a pandemic and reiterated the call for countries to take immediate actions and scale up response to treat, detect and reduce transmission to save people’s lives.

The COVID-19 pandemic is consid ered as the most serious global health crisis of the century and the greatest challenge that the humankind faced since the 2nd World War, In Decem ber 2019, a new infectious respira tory disease emerged in Wuhan, Hu bei province, China and was named by the World Health Organization as COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019). A new class of corona virus, known as SARS-CoV-2 has been found to be responsible for occurrence of this disease. As far as the history of human civilization is concerned there are instances of severe outbreaks of diseases caused by a number of virus es. According to the report of the World Health Organization, the current outbreak of COVID-19, has affected over 2164111 people and killed more than 146,198 people in more than 200 countries throughout the world. Till now there is no report of any clinically approved antiviral drugs or vaccines that are ef fective against COVID-19. It has rapidly spread around the world, posing enor mous health, economic, environmental and social challenges to the entire hu man population. The coronavirus out #break is severely disrupting the global economy, Almost all the nations are struggling to slow down the transmis sion of the disease by testing & treating

patients, quarantining suspected persons through contact tracing, re stricting large gatherings, maintaining complete or partial lock down etc.

Before the onset of COVID-19, there were at least five pandemics in the cur rent century, H1N1 in 2009, polio in 2014, Ebola (West Africa in 2014), Zika (2016) and Ebola (Democratic Republic of Congo in 2019). COVID-19 outbreak was declared as the sixth public health emergency of international concern on 30 Jan 2020 by the WHO. Compared to the other diseases, COVID-19 was much more widespread.

The COVID-19 outbreak was first re ported in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019, and within a couple of months it turned out to be a global health emergency. Live animals like bat, frog, snake, bird, marmot and rabbit are frequently sold at the Hunan seafood market. Genomic analysis revealed that SARS-CoV-2 is phylogenetically related to severe acute respiratory syndrome like (SARS-like) bat viruses, bats could therefore be the possible primary source. Although the intermediate source of origin and transfer to humans is not clearly known, the rapid human to hu man spreading capability of this virus has been established. As per the latest update of WHO on 30 October 2020, the outbreak of COVID-19 had spread in more than 200 countries. Approximately 11,87,582 people had died after con tracting the respiratory virus out of nearly 4,54,29,027 confirmed cases, whereas more than 3,30,35,620 people have re covered from the disease. These numbers are changing rapidly.

Bringing a glimmer of hope, Russia on August 11, 2020 declared itself the first country to approve a coronavirus vaccine with President Vladimir Putin saying one of his daughters had been inoculated. Dubbing the vaccine “Sputnik V” after the Soviet-era satellite that was the first launched into space, Russian officials said it provided safe, stable immunity and denounced Western attempts to un dermine Moscow’s research. Scientists in the West have raised concerns about the speed of development of Russian vaccines, suggesting that researchers might be cutting corners and coming un der pressure from authorities to deliver. The World Health Organization said any WHO stamp of approval on a COVID-19 vaccine candidate would require a rigorous safety data review.