A Crash Course on the COVID-19 Pandemic in 2021

It has been more than a year since the highly contagious virus strain took the entire world by storm. Businesses have shut down left and right, schools were forced to move online, and global economies were disrupted, which gave way to the largest global recession since the Great Depression.

The virus was first discovered in Wuhan, China in late 2019. And in early 2020, the World Health Organization declared it as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, only to say that it was a global pandemic after two months because of the fast-growing number of active cases.

This makes the coronavirus one of the deadliest pandemics ever to hit the human race in history, taking approximately 3.05 million lives, and counting, with it. For most of 2020, the only response that the medical communities and governments could do was to help the public cope with the knowledge they already had, while scientists were hard at work to understand the complexities of the virus strain.

Across the world, countries were being put into lockdowns and quarantines in an attempt to minimize the number of active cases while there was still no available cure for the disease. All consumer transactions, businesses, and schools were moved online, while travel restrictions and preventive measures were continuously enforced.

What is COVID-19?

It’s important to understand what the virus is at the core so that the spread of misinformation and fear-mongering are put to a stop. Although actual information about what the pandemic is and how it’s being confronted are abundant on news channels as well as online platforms, it can still be difficult to grasp as a whole.

This is because not everyone is as well-versed and educated as the leaders of the world to understand what exactly is going on. Many marginalized communities have no access to education or valuable information on the internet because of their preexisting living conditions.

So to put it simply, COVID-19 is a disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), which is transmitted through close contact with infected hosts that release respiratory droplets. For example, if there’s one infected host who coughs or sneezes and releases droplets in proximity to uninfected hosts, then the chances of spreading the virus are high.

That’s why preventive measures such as social distancing, wearing face masks, disinfection of surfaces, and constant washing of hands work to some extent in minimizing the chances of possible transmission between hosts. Of course, it’s not the end-all-be-all solution that people are hoping for.

people wearing different things to prevent covid

How is it being solved?

There is still very limited knowledge about the complexities of the COVID-19 virus to date, but the preliminary research shows that there is enough data to develop potential cures for the viral disease. Scientists and big pharmaceutical companies are hard at work to develop vaccines that may completely stop the virus from spreading.

Many active clinical trials and research initiatives are simultaneously being done to create vaccines with the highest efficacy rate against the coronavirus once injected into human hosts. Among the recent discoveries, it is believed that using SARS-CoV-2 inhibitor screening can help block virus entry and replication within human host cells.

Currently, several vaccines in multiple stages of development have been authorized worldwide for public use, and governments have begun distributing these vaccines to their citizens to build herd immunity — where the majority population in a specific area are becoming immune to the virus.

Is there a definite end to the global pandemic?

Millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered worldwide, with front liners, high-risk populations, and essential workers at the highest priority. Many first-world countries are also confident that they can begin transitioning to their new normal come late 2021, where people who have developed herd immunity can enjoy some semblance of pre-pandemic normalcy once more.

However, the same cannot be said for developing and third-world countries, where there is a limited supply of vaccines, high hospitalization rates, and the number of active cases. There also new variants of the virus being discovered, which means that potential waves of cases are not impossible.

In addition to that, these new variants and mutations can reduce the efficacy of existing vaccines, which can mean that those who have already been vaccinated can still be infected. But although these recent findings show that the world is nowhere near the end of the pandemic, all hope is not lost.

It can be said that the advancements in science, technology, and the medical industry have helped develop cures quicker as well as in more efficient ways. This is because historically speaking, people had to deal with pandemics for thousands of years before they could be declared eradicated through vaccines. The COVID-19 pandemic might have brought the world to a standstill with no silver lining in sight last year, but the circumstances are constantly changing.

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