What the heck is coronavirus COVID-19?
Below are some great explainer videos I discovered in my travels. After the videos, you’ll find a few useful fact-jammed paragraphs on the COVID-19 pandemic collected from my research building this site. You can jump right to my write up with this link if you’d like. Enjoy!
Coronavirus Explained & What You Should Do
The first video does an incredible job of answering many questions people have. It is easily the most-watched explainer video about COVID-19, and for good reason. Enjoy!
How do viruses jump from animals to humans?
As I mentioned previously COVID-19 very likely jumped to humans from bats. This excellent TED-Ed video explains how that can happen and is even great for kids.
Where did viruses come from?
This video by PBS provides a fascinating introduction to the origin of viruses and the science of paleovirology which is the study of ancient viruses and how they have molded genomes in the natural world.
Sharing What I’ve Learned
While putting this site together I read a head-scratching amount of information about the current pandemic created by the coronavirus pathogen named COVID-19 (or 2019-nCoV) and, as is typical on the Internet, not all of the information was created equal. Here is some information I think is worthwhile knowing – at the very least to add context to this pandemic. I’ve added important citations where I believe they are needed.
Experts believe only 10% of the world’s pathogens are known (src: BBC) and most originate in animals. It is when viruses gain the ability to jump from an animal to a human (a zoonotic infection, or zoonoses) that we can end up with a problem. In this case, the main suspect is bats since they are known carriers of infectious diseases and they were being sold for food in the animal markets of Wuhan, China; though this scientific study argues the origin may have come outside of the Wuhan market initially. That being said, despite what is said in various journalism, there is actually no solid proof that bats were the origin of COVID-19. One study (PDF option here) in the Journal of Medical Virology even postulates that COVID-19 came by way of snakes after bats before zoonotic infection occurred. It’s all up in the air at this point.
“Two-thirds of all infectious diseases in humans come from animals and three-quarters of all those are from the wildlife.”
Professor Kate Jones, a biodiversity scientist at the University College London (src).
One of the more common questions that arise from researching past epidemics is why are we seeing more of them over the past 100 years versus prior recorded history? Or are we? It seems so, and the reasons why definitely make sense to a layman like myself. Essentially, it is due to our transportation of and selling of animals worldwide in close proximity to each other along with vast human populations encroaching on wilderness habitats. In short, we’re creating a better and better environment for zoonotic infections to occur. This is why you may hear that pandemics will be more familiar events in humankind’s current and later generations.
FACT: Until COVID-19 came around only 6 coronaviruses could infect humans, of which 3 commonly succeeded (src, CDC human coronavirus types).
If you want to know more about the intricacies of COVID-19 and overall virology, there is a lot of fascinating information available online. Just be sure to check that the journals or studies you read are peer-reviewed… that is one of the limited discoveries I’ve made so far to determine the legitimacy of what I’m reading.