COVID-19: Things We Know and Don’t Know so Far

Written by Dr. Veena Madhankumar and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team

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Things We Know:

Along with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), which has resulted in the death of thousands of people since last December, fear and panic are on the spread. This fear is mostly because of the fact that it is still not clear where the virus originated, how to prevent and treat the infection, etc. Scientists and doctors are working around the clock and trying to know everything there is about this new virus. Here is the list of things we know and don’t know so far.

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Things We Know:

1) Death Rate – The data available so far shows that:
80 % of the cases had a mild infection.
15 % had a severe infection that required oxygen.
5 % were critical and needed ventilation.
Even though it will take a while to calculate the mortality rate, the percentage of death from all the reported cases so far is between 3 and 4 %.

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2) Different From Influenza – Both influenza and coronavirus infections result in similar respiratory illnesses, but the speed of transmission and incubation periods (time taken for the virus to cause symptoms) are completely different. The incubation period of influenza is 1 to 4 days, while that of coronavirus is much longer (can be up to 24 days). Influenza also has a shorter serial interval (time between two cases) of 3 days as compared to the COVID-19 virus, which is around 5 to 6 days. All these numbers mean that the influenza virus spreads faster than the coronavirus.

3) Children Are Less Affected – The initial data for the COVID-19 virus shows that children (below 19 years of age) are less affected than adults.
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4) People at High-Risk – Older adults and people with underlying health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease, are at high-risk for severe infection.

5) Treatment and Prevention – Currently, anti-HIV/AIDS medicine (Lopinavir and Ritonavir) are being used to treat critically ill patients, as no licensed medicine is available yet. Several clinical trials are running for possible drugs, and vaccines are under development.

Things We Still Don’t Know:

1) Where the Virus Originated – No definitive animal source has still been identified, but it is suspected to have originated and infected humans from bats, snakes, or rats.

2) The Virus’s Ability to Mutate – Things like whether the virus is prone to mutations, how fast it can mutate, and what can cause mutation, are still not known.

3) Population-Based Behavior – Data on how the virus behaves among people of a certain race or region is not available.

4) Vaccination – Around 20 vaccines are still under development.

5) Cure – There are several clinical trials going on for many possible drugs, but there is no cure as of now.

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