The latest on COVID-19 research
In December 2019 the first signs of a viral pneumonia epidemic appeared in China, in the city of Wuhan. And on the 9th of January 2020 the infectious agent was identified: a new type of coronavirus, initially named 2019-nCoV, then SARS-CoV-2, which was responsible for a new respiratory disease called coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19). The epidemic spread in an unprecedented fashion over the coming weeks, and was declared to be a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO).But what do we know about this illness? Who does it affect? Everybody, no matter what their age, can be infected. Most people either don’t show any symptoms at all or have minor symptoms such as a cough, tiredness and fever, and are able to recover and eliminate the virus from their body naturally. On the other hand, older people and those suffering from pre-existing conditions (asthma, diabetes, renal insufficiency, heart disease, cancers…) are likely to fall more seriously ill and to require intensive care, taking up valuable hospital resources.
In order to avoid intensive care services being put under strain, various measures have been taken to limit the spread of the disease: cancellation of sporting and cultural events worldwide, imposition of lockdown procedures, border closures, etc.. However, by September 2020 the spread of the virus in Europe had reached alarming levels and most countries that had eased restrictive measures during the summer started to re-impose them, leading to curfews, lockdowns, declarations of states of emergency and the closure of public places and shops deemed to be “non-essential”.
According to the Agence France Presse, by the 3rd of November 2020 Covid-19 had already caused more than 1,2 million deaths worldwide, and 46,5 million people had been officially infected. Researchers set about trying to better understand the particularities and the pathogenesis of this new virus so as to discover new treatments and prevent new infections.