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June 04, 2021 5 min read

Did you know that more than 5,000 genetic sequences of coronavirus have been identified through scientific research? Luckily not all of them affect us humans. To date, seven genetic variants are considered harmful to our health and the immune system:

  • 229E
  • NL63
  • OC43
  • HKU1
  • MERS-CoV
  • SARS-CoV
  • SARS-CoV-2

When the deadly pandemic broke out in Wuhan, people identified it as SARS-CoV that shook the world during 2002-2003. But later, this new virus was discovered to be a harmful variant of SARS-CoV. It was named SARS-CoV-2.

This genetic variant has damaged our health and livelihoods, and spread fear. Understanding these viruses, however, is key to fighting them.

A Glimpse at SARS-CoV-2's Genomics & Interaction with the Immune System

The structure of the Corona virus

The coronavirus family is subdivided into four major groups:

SARS-CoV-2 belongs to the Beta category of the coronavirus family, which is transmitted through mammals. Scientists from Alabama found that the new genetic variant inhibits our MicroRNA, which are small single-stranded RNA that help to regulate gene expression. When our MicroRNA decrease in number, viruses are able to replicate more quickly and harm our immune system.

Due to this, the person who’s been infected easily succumbs due to their weakened immune system. Researchers also discovered that these viruses directly affect the lungs, causing bronchial disorders. People who are prone to asthma-like diseases are affected quickly and can develop breathing issues. 

How SARS-CoV-2 Spreads? A Virus Transmission Analysis

A scientific briefing by the WHO stated that the organization conducted an extensive study to find the factors affecting virus spread. The potential transmitters and mode of transmission were researched to discover preventive measures and curb the rate of viral shedding. Here are some of the ways that the virus transfers from person to person:  

Physical Contact: Person to Person Transmission and Contaminated Surface Touch

Transmission can occur if a person comes into direct contact with an infected person or their body fluids (cough, sneezing, sweat, urine, eye mucus). Saliva and respiratory secretions from the infected person are highly contagious. Being in close contact (within a meter) of the infected person significantly raises the chances of viral infection.

A sick person in a cafeteria

Contaminated surfaces are another vector for transmission. Coming in close contact with a substance or surface someone sick previously used or handled can result in spreading. This includes objects like pens, grocery carts and packaging, toiletries, railings, and phones.

Carrying personal items and using preventive equipment is necessary to avoid infectious surfaces. The virus can remain surfaces and objects for hours and even up to a few days, depending on the material: 
  • The virus can live on metal surfaces like a doorknob and handle for 5-9 days
  • 4 days on furniture and wood materials 
  • 2-3 days on plastic substances (processed food containers, grocery or shopping bags) and stainless steel products (zinc, tape, stainless pan, and refrigerator handle)
  • Lasts on shipping cardboard boxes for 24 hours, and its life on paper can vary from a few minutes to 5 days. 

Until now, researchers and scientists have found no proof of virus transmission through food, water, and fabrics. But, it is necessary to ensure safe contact through preventive equipment that helps you avoid direct touch with contaminated surfaces.

Airborne Transmission

When you’re standing at least 6 feet away from someone, the chance of airborne transmission drops significantly. But according to the CDC's briefing, there are possibilities of airborne transmission under certain conditions:

  • Exhaled droplets containing the virus can evaporate and form aerosols, increasing the chances of viral infection during inhalation. When in a closed space without proper ventilation, the concentration of these aerosols increases, and so does the chance of infection.
  • If an infected person breathes air in the same space for more than 15 minutes, the viral concentration in the air increases and can affect individuals standing 6 feet away.
A person in PPE kit sanitizing the surroundings

When it comes to transmission, asymptomatic (no symptoms from onset to end) and pre-symptomatic (develops symptoms very slowly) transmissions are wreaking havoc in the research field.

Asymptomatic individuals carry the virus and increase the transmission rate. Because people can be asymptomatic, we can’t tell who’s infected and who isn’t. All we can do is take preventive measures and maintain social distancing.

Chronic Risk Factors Associated with SARS-CoV-2

Understanding the risk factors of SARS-CoV-2 can help you to determine how at risk you are to contract it, and choose appropriate protective measures for your level of risk. Here are some factors that may make you more at risk than others: 
  • Age: Reports from the CDC and WHO suggest that people 50 or older are at a higher risk of infection. Adults and the elderly are more likely to have aging-associated diseases, which make them vulnerable to the virus.
  • Pre-existing Conditions and Autoimmune Issues: People suffering from serious illnesses or chronic condition are at an increased risk of infection. Health issues which impact your immune system also significantly increase your risk.
  • Population Density: Reports show that areas with a higher population density (and thus more crowded public areas) have higher rates of infection compared to states with lower population density.
  • Race & Ethnicity: According to the CDC, people from ethnic minority groups are at a higher risk of infection than ethnic majorities. System-level inequalities such as lack of access to hygiene supplies, economic disadvantages, and lack of access to medical facilities makes these groups much more vulnerable to SARS-CoV-2.
  • Gender: When it comes to fighting infections, women have a better immune response than men, making them less vulnerable to infection.  Habits such as smoking, drinking, and unhealthy food are some of the risk factors that contribute to this. 

No one can avoid the risk of infection, but those who are at higher risk should be extra vigilant about taking preventative measures. 

Preventive Measures and Infection Control

There are no prescribed treatments for SARS-CoV-2. By lowering our risk of transmission, we help to slow the spread of the virus, and the only way to do this is by following safety guidelines and using preventative measures. 

Use Personal Protective Equipment

Personal protective equipment saw an increase in demand after the start of the pandemic. In addition to your standard masks and gloves, new personal protective products are available on the market to help you maintain physical distance and reduce the rate of infection.

Get Vaccinated to Boost Your Immune Response

Many assume the COVID vaccine is a 100% foolproof preventative. However, it’s more like an immune system boost. It helps to reduce the severity of the illness, thus reducing the risk of pneumonia and bronchial infections.

Authorized and clinically proven vaccines are now available in medical centers. Recently, the US govt has made safety guidelines more flexible for vaccinated people - fully vaccinated individuals are encouraged to make their own decision on whether or not to use a mask. 

Pregnant woman wearing mask with a doctor

Follow a Healthy Diet

WHO makes it clear that no food can cure SARS-CoV-2, but maintaining a healthy diet does improve your immunity. Immunogenic foods like eggs, fruits, and vegetables are a vital part of a balanced diet, which will keep you strong and healthy. 

Know the Facts and Avoid Infection

Living with this pandemic has been a challenge. Our constantly evolving understanding of the disease means constant news around the illness, coupled with worrying statistics around both COVID and the economy. However, we can combat our anxieties by understanding the virus and how it interacts with our bodies. 

Grab the most affordable personal protective equipment from Go Safemate and step up in disease prevention.
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