It's no secret that the Covid-19 pandemic has taken over the news and our lives this year.
The COVID-19 pandemic, also known as the coronavirus pandemic, is an ongoing pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, China. The World Health Organisation declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern in January 2020 and a pandemic in March 2020. As of 17 November 2020, more than 55.2 million cases have been confirmed, with more than 1.33 million deaths attributed to COVID-19.
COVID-19 mainly spreads through the air when people are near each other long enough,[b] primarily via small droplets or aerosols, as an infected person breathes, coughs, sneezes, sings, or speaks. Transmission via fomites (contaminated surfaces) has not been conclusively demonstrated. It can spread as early as two days before infected persons show symptoms (presymptomatic), and from asymptomatic (no symptoms) individuals. People remain infectious for up to ten days in moderate cases, and two weeks in severe cases.
Common symptoms include fever, cough, fatigue, breathing difficulties, and loss of smell and taste. Complications may include pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome. The incubation period is typically around five days but may range from one to 14 days. There are several vaccine candidates in development, although none has completed clinical trials. There is no known specific antiviral medication, so primary treatment is currently symptomatic.
Recommended preventive measures include hand washing, covering one's mouth when sneezing or coughing, social distancing, wearing a face mask in public, ventilation and air-filtering, disinfecting surfaces, and monitoring and self-isolation for people exposed or symptomatic. Authorities worldwide have responded by implementing travel restrictions, lockdowns, workplace hazard controls, and facility closures. Many places have also worked to increase testing capacity and trace contacts of the infected.
With much of the world grinding to a halt in March of 2020, businesses were forced to close their doors, workplaces had to make rapid adjustments to allow staff to be able to work remotely, and overall the pace of life slowed down quite a bit. Lines formed outside of grocery stores. Social distancing measures were slowly introduced, followed by face mask by-laws in many places.
Now, as we near the end of 2020, the questions remain... how long until we have a vaccine? Will we ever be able to travel freely again? And will life ever go back to 'normal'?
A COVID‑19 vaccine is any of several different vaccine technologies intended to provide acquired immunity against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‑19). Previous work to develop a vaccine against the coronavirus diseases SARS and MERS established knowledge about the structure and function of coronaviruses, which accelerated development during early 2020 of varied technology platforms for a COVID‑19 vaccine.
On 9 November, Pfizer Inc announced that its vaccine was more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19, and on 16 November, Moderna revealed its vaccine was 94.5% effective.
These are unprecedented times in the modern age, with massive impact across the globe's economies. Coronavirus fears have led to closed borders, panic buying of necessities and non-necessities, and overflowing hospitals with overworked staff.
The best thing we can do to try to fast-track our lives back to normal is follow public health guidelines, keep social distancing and avoid visiting those outside of our social circles, wash our hands frequently... and don't give up hope.
All that being said, nobody will blame you for putting up your Christmas decorations (and busting out the spiked egg nog) a little early this year.