The world is facing a new mountainous challenge. Also known as the Covid-19 cutting across nations, no matter if they are the most advance or they are a global superpower. Every country is on its knees because of this virus. Though it has been already six months since the virus has shown its ugly face to the humankind, we still know very little about this devil. We are still struggling to just fight the contagion rather than know it better and build our defences. Everyone still has a lot of questions about it which are far from being answered.
One of those questions the entire world is asking is, why is the effect of the virus not so severe in the SAARC Nations even though they do not really have the best public health care facilities in the globe. In fact the rate of fatality is around 3% to 3.5% compared to the upward of 5 to 6% in Europe and the US. Also the number of infections as compared to the population density is also very low. A number of factors are being attributed for this. Apart from taking early preventive actions, strict isolation, and other governmental measures, theories are also being discussed about advanced immunity of the population in these parts of the world due to the existing living conditions and age of the population (which is primarily younger compared to the rest of the world). Another dimension which is also widely being discussed, is the fact that not only the SAARC nations but also the countries/areas which are in between the tropics are showing a lower infection rate. This brings us to an assumption that either geography or weather has some role to play in containing the virus.
Though there are no definite conclusions yet, let us try and analyse this assumption. This virus belongs to a family called the Coronavirus and sub family of SARS CoV Virus family. SARS stands for Severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus. Typically the optimum environmental condition associated with this virus family is between 16 Degree to 28 Degree Centigrade. But a sharp decrease in temperature was related to the increase in SARS infection cases. This also has a relation to the human immunity system. Human immunity tends to decrease with the decrease in temperature. Common cold and flu virus are also related to this virus family and we normally see an increasing trend during monsoon and winter days. This shows that there is a possibility that the virus thrives in humid and cold conditions. Now if we come to the present-day scenario, we find that CoVid-19 also has an alarming rate of increase in conditions where the temperatures are cold to moderately cold with some humidity or moisture in the air. Most of the virus from this virus family are also similar in the way they propagate, and all are extremely contagious.
Lately, we have also discovered some more interesting facts about this virus family, especially CoVid-19 or SARS CoV2. This virus is also being called the “Enveloped Virus”. The reason for this name is due to the discovery of an oily coat around the virus known as the lipid bi-layer. This layer is studded with proteins that stick out like spikes of a crown. Thus, the name “CORONA” or like a crown, which comes from the Latin word CORONA meaning crown. So, what is this oily coat and how does this relates to the seasonal behaviour.
Research shows that this oily coat makes this virus more susceptible to heat than those viruses which do not have this coat. This oily coat in colder condition become harder like rubber & that makes it impenetrable, protecting the virus. On the other hand, higher temperatures have a reverse effect on this virus by thinning and destroying this layer. So, most of the enveloped virus show a strong seasonality effect due to this.
As more and more researchers are working day and night to understand this new virus, I just hope that we are able to win over this virus soon. Its is often said that there is always a counterforce force available in nature for any negative force. Probably the same is for this virus as well. May be its just the abundant sunlight which we have or some medicine from the plants. We humans have always survived these sorts of calamities with our determination and hope. I am sure we shall get over this as well, may be with some morning “sunshine on my shoulders”.
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