Coronavirus continues to mutate and spread

   A recent outbreak of the new coronavirus has left people wondering whether the world will fall into another deadly pandemic. Biologists speculate that with the population density so high, an easily spreadable and deadly virus could potentially take out much of the world. However, the new coronavirus, scientifically titled COVID-19, does not prove as much of a threat as some people may be led to believe.

   Coronavirus, COVID-19, is an upper respiratory illness that causes many of the common cold symptoms, thus making it hard to diagnose and detect. Originating from the Wuhan province of China, COVID-19 spread quickly throughout the country due to its overly dense population. Thought to have spread through respiratory droplets, the virus is highly contagious and mutates at a fast rate. “The thing is I am not really sure that people really know a lot about it,” said Dr. Ian Hunter of Sheridan Memorial Hospital. “I know that it is a virus that causes upper respiratory infections, and many of the symptoms include a high fever, coughing, and a sore throat, but other than that it is really just a bad cold.”

   The COVID-19 is believed to have originated from a Chinese market where an animal virus mutated and infected the first person. The virus is similar to other coronaviruses that have wreaked havoc on the world; however, unlike some of the other virus strains, scientists are unsure as to which animal COVID-19 came from. Scientists do know what the virus looks like. They are able to diagnose it, but the danger of this virus is in its age. “It is a newer virus and the easy spread of it indicates that it has probably become airborne,” said Sheridan High School biology teacher Randy Rowland. “It possibly came to America on an airplane that traveled from China, but how far it has spread, I am unsure.”

   When pharmacists make a flu vaccine, they are only making an educated guess on how much the flu will mutate for the next season. On a good year, scientists can prevent the flu in people who got the vaccine by about 40 percent. The COVID-19 shares a similar pattern with the flu virus, and thus mutates at such a rapid pace that scientists will not be able to concoct a foolproof vaccine. “We will most likely never create a vaccine for this virus; it just mutates too fast for scientists to actually have an effect on it,” said Doctor Hunter. “It will also most likely let itself die out after a period of time, especially if international travel is limited and hospitals stay up to date with information.”

   The media has made the situation seem very deadly; however with recent confirmation and data, COVID-19 does not pose as much of a threat as recently thought. The death rate so far has only been about two percent, possibly lower if there were more undocumented cases, and it only critically affects the elderly and the very young. The common flu virus kills an average of about 300 American citizens a week, and that is with a new vaccine for every year. “I think that it will be like another Ebola situation where it will be there for a bit, but then it will go away,” said sophomore James Holst. “There may be some deaths, but it is not going to be as big as some say it will be, so no I do not think that we will be affected in Wyoming.” The Ebola epidemic of earlier years caused similar amounts of fear and that disease kills about 60 percent of all infected patients. Considering the death rate so far of the COVID-19 it is no where near the severity of both Ebola and the flu.

   A remarkable story has taken place in the Wuhan province of China where COVID-19 started. Doctors and construction workers set up two brand new hospitals in the span of 10 days each. Both hospitals have the capacity of caring for over a thousand patients, and health care professionals are storming into heavily infected areas to provide aid and medical attention for patients. 

   In America, there have only been 398 people under investigation, and each patient has been inspected by the CDC and will be closely monitored for further information. Every confirmed case, only 13, has been placed in personal quarantine, and all documented cases in America have had connections with the Wuhan Province in China or have been in contact with someone who has. “As of right now there are no cases in Wyoming, and there are not even any reported contacts or travel related with the province in China where it started,” said Dr. Hunter. The situation will evolve; however, it will most likely not become a serious medical pandemic.