People are smart. We are lucky to live in a world with such brilliant scientists, but sometimes animals still manage to outsmart us. To refrain from repeating all the facts that you probably already know I would like to highlight some of the interesting, more science nerd, findings that are being discovered.
It is known that corona viruses come from animals. They most commonly evolve in animals such as: bats, pigs, chickens, birds, and even camels. In saying this, these are only the more common sources of corona viruses, but they are really able to develop from any non-human thing. Seasonal flu is an influenza virus, which also is thought to be derived from a bird, with two subtypes. So, what’s the difference? Well, influenza is caused by several different types and strains of viruses, whereas, corona viruses are caused by one single virus. Knowing that a corona virus is only caused by one type of virus you would think that it would be easier to treat because there is only one “thing” to target. This is not the case. Human corona viruses are known around the world, but COVID-19 is new. It has a new cell shape, new cell receptors, new methods of transmission, and the list goes on making it just as new to scientist around the world as it is to me and you. We are all learning together.
Corona viruses are a form of acute respiratory illnesses, meaning they attack the lungs and respiratory pathways in the body.
Although we know corona viruses come from animals and can affect both animals and humans there is no data proving dogs are able to be infected or even transmit the virus between humans. WHO (World Health Organization) let the dogs out!
For all my fellow nerds out there, this next discovery had my sciencey senses tingling! Please note the following information is hypothesis based meaning it has not gone through enough trials to be a 100% solid fact. Scientists around the world have noticed that Ibuprofen, the active drug in Advil, aggravates the COVID-19 virus when in the human body. There is also research showing that Ibuprofen promotes the expression of ACE2 receptors on human cells, which is the receptor of choice for COVID-19. It is advised to take Paracetamol, the active drug in Tylenol, to alleviate any symptoms you may be experiencing.
If you are more of a visual person, you can think of the pandemic as a graph. Usually, epidemics follow the trend of exponential growth. Exponential growth is a specific way a quantity increases over time where the rate of change is constantly increasing.
However, at a certain point, the inflection point, the rate of change cannot increase anymore and must become constant. Following a moment of being constant there is no way to go but down. The slope and rate of change must start decreasing slowly beginning to flatten the curve. Yes, I said “flatten the curve”. The rate of change should decrease until it has a value of zero, meaning the epidemic has been eradicated. This is called a logistic curve. We are seeing this phenomenon in real time right now. If you graph the data of people infected in China, the epicentre of the pandemic, you will see a logistic curve! It eases the mind a little when you leave the fate of the world to the hands of mathematics.
I just read an extremely interesting research article coming out of Georgetown University titled: 7 science-based strategies to cope with coronavirus anxiety. It is written by a psychologist who says it is okay, and perfectly human, to feel anxiety in response to a threat. I believe it is valuable to share some of the suggestions mentioned to help everyone cope with corona virus anxiety:
- Practice tolerating uncertainty: intolerance to uncertainty is constantly on the rise in America making people more vulnerable to anxiety. A suggested solution to this issue is to gradually learn to face uncertainty in daily life. This could be done by stopping certainty-seeking behaviours. For example: next time you need an answer don’t just immediately text your friend, try to find the answer yourself or, this one is super risky, go for a hike without checking the weather beforehand. By building up your tolerance to uncertainty you will find yourself checking the internet less each day for updates about the outbreak.
- Tackle the anxiety paradox: constantly struggling with anxiety can take many forms, such as: using distractions like drinking, eating, or watching TV more than usual. People struggling with anxiety might also constantly demand for reassurance from others or they might partake in obsessively checking the news to calm their fears. It is true that these actions help in the short term, but in the long run they are quite damaging. Instead of doing all these actions allow the anxiety to pass by you because accepting anxiety is an integral part of the human experience. This could be done by recognizing your anxiety the moment it hits and then physically talking about it.
- Transcend existential anxiety: when constantly faced with reminders people often become consumed with health anxiety and hyperfocused on any signs of illness. To overcome this try connecting to your life’s purpose and meaning. Try focusing on and doing an activity you have been putting off for a while.
- Don’t underestimate human resiliency: human minds are good at predicting the worst. Research has shown that people overestimate how badly they will be affected by negative events in their life and on the other side of things they underestimate how well they will be able to cope with difficult situations. Keeping in mind how resilient you are can help ease your anxiety.
- Don’t get sucked into overestimating the threat: the corona virus can be dangerous, but there are precautions you can take to be prepared. People are also known to exaggerate the danger of unfamiliar threats in comparison to the ones they already know. Constant media coverage just helps perpetuate the sense of danger of the unknown. To reduce anxiety, it is suggested to limit your exposure: like only watch the news for 30 minutes per day. Anxiety always makes things seem more dire.
- Strengthen self care: during times of high anxiety it is important to get adequate sleep, exercise regularly, practice mindfulness, spend time in nature, and employ relaxation techniques. Prioritizing yourself and these behaviours during this time will go a long way towards increasing your psychological well being and even improving your immune system.
- Seek professional help if you need it: if you are feeling extremely overwhelmed to the point your anxiety is hindering your work, close relationships, socializing, or taking care of yourself then it is important to seek professional help. Cognitive behavioural therapy and certain medications can successfully treat anxiety problems.
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