Thursday, October 28

4 things we still don’t know about the coronavirus one year after the pandemic


In a pandemic year, There have been more than 2.6 million deaths from COVID-19 and 117 million infected.

When the first case was detected in China in December 2019, the effects of the Sars-Cov-2 virus were unknown to patients, doctors, governments and scientists.

But in the last 12 months, science has compiled enormous evidence about the new coronavirus, how it is transmitted and reproduced in the body, and the most effective way to prevent and treat it.

For example now if you know that the use of a mask is essential to prevent transmission, that there are so far no treatments for the disease, and that covid-19 not only affects and kills the elderly.

But a year after the pandemic was declared, we have seen that some of the things we knew at first about this virus have changed.

We also know that this pathogen and the disease it causes continue to evolve. And there are other things that are not yet known about the coronavirus and COVID-19.

These are four aspects of the SARS-Cov-2 spectrum that we don’t know or have unclear about, and scientists are working around the clock to better understand them.

1. The long-term effects of the disease

One question scientists continue to ask is why SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, produces mild short-term symptoms, an acute respiratory illness, or possibly no symptoms in most of those infected.

But for some people it causes long-lasting symptoms.

It is what is called prolonged or long-lasting COVID-19.

This form of the disease is characterized by symptoms including shortness of breath, prolonged fatigue, headache and joint pain, and loss of smell and taste.

children at school
It is not yet known what the social impact of the coronavirus pandemic will be. (Photo: Getty Images)

A study by King’s College London estimates that one in 20 people with COVID-19 is sick for at least eight weeks.

Scientists are trying to understand which patients could be affected by prolonged COVID-19 and how long the impact of the virus could last.

Another still unanswered question about the long-term effects of the virus is what its epigenetic impact will be. That is to say, Will its effects be transmitted from generation to generation?

And furthermore, researchers are busy studying the social and economic impact that this pandemic will have.

2. How the virus will evolve

Every time the coronavirus is transmitted from one person to another, it makes small changes to your genetic code, and scientists are beginning to identify patterns in the way the virus is mutating.

These signs of virus adaptation scientists are not entirely surprised.

Using treatments and vaccines causes most disease-causing viruses and bacteria to develop ways to escape them and continue to spread.

Those who develop resistance to a treatment or can hide from the immune system will survive longer to replicate and thus spread their genetic material.

The issue of coronavirus mutations, a year after the pandemic began, is now becoming very important.

And it is that new variants of SARS-Cov-2 capable of spreading more quickly are emerging, which leads us to wonder if this will make recently approved vaccines are less effective.

To date there is little evidence that they are, but scientists are already beginning to explore how the virus will mutate in the future and if they could prevent it.

Some drug companies are already updating their vaccines to target mutated versions of the SARS-Cov-2 spike protein.

But with the patterns of mutations that scientists are seeing appear in the coronavirus around the world, can any clue be obtained as to how the virus will continue to evolve?

SARS-CoV-2 and the ACE2 receptor
The problem of virus mutations is becoming very important one year after the pandemic. (Photo: Science Photo Library)

Researchers are closely watching how the virus is changing in order to get an idea of ​​its future evolution.

And they also hope that the identification of these changes could be useful for the development of future vaccines.

3. What the next pandemic might look like

The COVID-19 pandemic took much of the world by surprise. But not all.

For years epidemiologists and other experts have warned that we should have prepared for a global pandemic.

Most of the diseases of concern to experts originate in animals. In fact, 75% of emerging diseases are zoonotic.

COVID-19, which is believed to have originated in pangolins sold in wet markets in China, it doesn’t seem any different.

But just like this one, zoonotic diseases are becoming increasingly risky for humans due to our own actions.

Our effect on climate, encroaching wildlife habitats, and global travel have helped spread animal-borne diseases.

This, combined with urbanization, overpopulation and world trade have created an ideal scenario for more pandemics to occur.

Now, a year after the coronavirus pandemic, scientists are investigating what other diseases are likely to cause the next global pandemic.

And they’re keeping an eye on the big threats ranging from camels causing MERS in Africa to bats. that spread the Nipah virus in Asia.

4. What is the environmental impact of the pandemic

Pollution and greenhouse gas emissions fell on every continent as countries tried to contain the spread of the new coronavirus and imposed global lockdowns.

But these increased rapidly again during the rest of the year.

In general, CO2 emissions they were down just over 6% in 2020.

But a global pandemic that has claimed the lives of millions of people should not be seen as a way to bring about environmental change.

It is not yet known what the impact of the COVID-19 crisis will be on polluting emissions.

Wuhan, China
Pollutant emissions were drastically reduced at the beginning of the pandemic. (Photo: EPA)

But when the pandemic finally subsides, Will we return to the same levels of emissions of dioxide carbon and pollutants from before the pandemic? Will these levels “recover” so much that it will seem as if the clear skies we saw have never happened?

Or could the changes we see today have a more persistent effect?

Experts believe that the changes we make during the pandemic can lead to the introduction of lasting habits.

During the coronavirus outbreak, we saw how the reduction in travel and transportation brought benefits for the climate and how food waste was reduced due to shortage fears during lockdowns.

There is a possibility that the pandemic will have a more lasting impact on the environment, and environmentalists wonder if the way we responded to the COVID-19 crisis could serve as a model for responding to climate change.


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