Like many Americans, when I first heard of the Novel Coronavirus, I didn’t give it much thought, other than to offer whispers of condolences to the people of China who were becoming ill and eventually succumbing to the disease. Again, like many others, I initially thought it was being contained inside the country from which it originated, and that Americans nor any other country had anything to worry about. As long as the virus was being contained, anyone outside Wuhan had nothing at all to worry about. Right?
When news reports started warning the public that the virus had not been contained afterall, and that it was beginning to make its way into other countries, I became somewhat more interested in the virus itself and how it was impacting humans and countries, so I started keeping a journal, making daily entries of developing news stories and the timeline of the virus, from origination of the virus to which country it had spread to, the amount of active cases that were being reported and how many deaths were attributed to the sickness.
It wasn’t until states began issuing “stay at home” orders, recommending social distancing and avoiding gatherings of more than 10 people that I became concerned, although possibly not in the way that the majority of others were concerned.
Viruses and plagues have wreaked havoc globally for centuries, resulting in millions of deaths. And although I have lived through the AIDS epidemic, Zika virus, West Nile Virus, Bird Flu, Swine Flu and H1N1 to name a few, not a single one of these illnesses resulted in shutting down the entire world!! This is when I became more curious than ever, wondering exactly what it was that set this particular virus apart from any other, why it cost millions of Americans their jobs, why businesses had to close down, why we’re being warned to stay indoors and shelter in place. Some of the information I discovered is quite interesting and I will get to that later. But first, let’s take a look at some other viruses/illnesses that changed history and follow that up with a comparison.
430 B.C.: Athens, Greece during the Peloponnesian War, multitudes of people developed an illness with symptoms of fever, thirst, bloody throat and tongue, red skin and lesions. 2/3 of the population died from what was thought to be Typhoid Fever.
165 A.D.: Antonine Plague – Believed to be the early appearance of Smallpox that began with the Huns, who then infected Germans, who passed it to the Romans and then returning troops spread it throughout the Roman Empire. Symptoms included fever, sore throat, diarrhea, and if the patient lived long enough, pus-filled sores.
250 A.D.: Cyprian Plague – A mystery illness that resulted in recurring outbreaks over the next three centuries. Symptoms included diarrhea, vomiting, throat ulcers, fever and gangrenous hands and feet.
541 A.D.: Justinian Plague – Spread throughout Palestine and the Byzantine Empire, then throughout the Mediterranean. Believed to be the first significant appearance of the Bubonic Plague, which features enlarged lymphatic glands and is carried by rats and spread by fleas. Recurrences over the next two centuries killed about 50 million people, 26% of the world’s population.
11th Century: Leprosy – Grew into a pandemic in Europe in the Middle Ages, resulting in the building of numerous Leprosy-focused hospitals to accommodate the vast number of victims. A slow-developing bacterial disease that causes sores and deformities. Now known as Hansen’s Disease, it still afflicts tens of thousands of people a year and can be fatal if not treated with antibiotics.
1350: The Black Death – A large outbreak of the Bubonic Plague, began in Asia and moved west in caravans. Responsible for the deaths of 1/3 of the world population.
1492: The Columbian Exchange – Following the arrival of the Spanish in the Caribbean, diseases such as Smallpox, Measles and Bubonic Plague were passed along to the native populations by the Europeans. With no previous exposure, these diseases devastated indigenous people with as many as 90% dying throughout the north and south continents.
1665: The Great Plague of London – Bubonic Plague outbreak led to the deaths of 20% of London’s population. Hundreds of thousands of cats and dogs were slaughtered because they were believed to be the carriers.
1817: First Cholera Pandemic – Small intestine infection that originated in Russia, where one million people died. This was the first of six more outbreaks to come over the next 150 years.
1855: The Third Plague Pandemic – Started in China and moving to India and Hong Kong, another outbreak of Bubonic Plague claimed 15 millions victims.
1875: Fiji Measles Pandemic – 40,000 people, 1/3 of Fiji’s population, died.
1889: Russian Flu – Started in Siberia and Kazakhstan, traveled to Moscow, and made its way into Finland and then Poland, where it moved into the rest of Europe. By the following year, it had crossed the ocean into North America and Africa. By the end of 1890, 360,000 people had died.
1918: Spanish Flu – Avian-born flu that resulted in 50 million deaths worldwide. First observed in Europe, the U.S. and parts of Asia before swiftly spreading around the world. There were no effective drugs or vaccines to treat the killer flu strain. Named the “Spanish Flu” due to an outbreak in Madrid in the Spring of 1918.
1957: Asian Flu – Started in Hong Kong and spread throughout China and then into the U.S. It became widespread in England where, over 6 months, 14,000 people died. A second wave followed in early 1958, causing an estimated total of about 1.1 million deaths globally, with 116,000 of those deaths in the U.S. alone. A vaccine was developed effectively, and the pandemic was contained.
1981: HIV/AIDS – First identified in 1981, AIDS destroys a person’s immune system, resulting in eventual death by diseases that the body would usually be able to fight off. Those infected by the HIV virus encounter fever, headache and enlarged lymph nodes upon infection. Believed to have developed from a chimpanzee virus from West Africa in the 1920’s. The disease, which spreads through certain body fluids, moved to Haiti in the 1960’s, and then New York and San Francisco in the 1970’s.
2003: SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) – First identified in 2003 after several months of reported cases. Believed to have possibly started with bats, spread to cats and then to humans in China, followed by 26 other countries, infecting 8,096 people with 774 deaths. Characterized by respiratory problems, dry cough, fever and head and body aches and is spread through respiratory droplets from coughs and sneezes. Quarantine efforts were effective and by July 2003, the virus was contained and hasn’t reappeared since.
China was criticized for trying to suppress information about the virus at the beginning of the outbreak. SARS was seen by global health experts and professionals as a wake-up call to improve outbreak responses, and lessons from the pandemic were used to keep diseases like H1N1, Ebola and Zika under control.
2019 – COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019) – On March 11, 2019, WHO (World Health Organization) announced that COVID-19 virus was officially a pandemic after spreading through 114 countries in 3 months and infecting over 118,000 people. COVID-19 is caused by a novel (new) coronavirus strain THAT HAS NOT PREVIOUSLY BEEN FOUND IN HUMANS!!! (Remember this!) Symptoms include respiratory problems, fever and cough, and can lead to pneumonia and death. Like SARS, it’s spread through droplets from sneezes and/or coughs. Originated in China on November 17, 2019, the first reported case in the Hubei Province but went unrecognized. Eight more cases appeared in December with researchers pointing to an unknown virus. Many learned about COVID-19 when ophthalmologist Dr. Li Wenliang defied government orders and released safety information to other doctors. The following day, China informed WHO and charged Dr. Li with a crime. Dr. Li died from COVID-19 just over a month later. Without a vaccine available, the virus spread beyond Chinese borders and by mid-March, 2019, it had spread globally to more than 163 countries. On February 11, 2019, the infection was officially christened COVID-19.
Even as bad as the above listed viruses and illnesses are, here is a list of the 12 DEADLIEST viruses on earth: Marburg Virus, Ebola, Rabies, HIV, Smallpox (reported eradicated in 1980), Hantavirus, Influenza, Dengue, Rotavirus, SARS – CoV, SARS – CoV2, MERS – CoV.
Now, let’s take a look at some of the mortality rates for other diseases, starting with Influenza. For the 2017-2018 flu season, 80,000 deaths were reported and it is predicted that for the 2019-2020 season, 24,000-62,000 will succumb to the illness. SARS resulted in 774 deaths; MERS – 92; Ebola – a total of 11,323 since February 2014; Zika – although no adult deaths have been reported, the virus is believed to be responsible for 2,400 cases of microcephaly and 29 infant deaths; West Nile Virus – 2,000 deaths since 1999; H1N1 (Swine Flu Pandemic) – 18,036 deaths; Legionnaire’s Disease – from 1973-2019, 57 outbreaks have been reported with a total number of deaths at 285. The first reported outbreak was in Philadelphia, PA in 1976 during a Legionnaire’s Convention at the Bellevue Stratford Hotel. It is caused by gram negative, aerobic bacteria and is potentially fatal. Encephalitis – In 2015, it was estimated to have affected 4.3 million people and resulted in 150,000 deaths worldwide. It is a virus that causes inflammation of the brain. Symptoms include headache, fever, confusion, stiff neck, vomiting. Complications may include seizures, hallucinations, trouble speaking, memory problems and problems with hearing. This one I know about personally since my nephew contracted it and at 3 months old, underwent brain surgery to stop brain swelling and hemorraging, leaving him legally blind.
Human coronaviruses are quite common, believe it or not, and we’ve all been exposed to one at some point in our lives. Look at the “for use on” instructions on a can of Lysol spray and you’ll see it there. The common cold is a human coronavirus, miserable to have one, but basically harmless. So when do coronaviruses become life-threatening? When they mutate, that’s when. Sicknesses such as MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome), SARS CoV (Beta coronavirus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome), SARS CoV2 (novel coronavirus that causes coronavirus disease 2019, or as we now know it, COVID-19. Sometimes coronaviruses that infect animals, such as bats (there’s that word again), make people sick and become a new human coronavirus, such is 2019-nCoV, SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV.
Multiple opinions and conspiracy theories have been floating around ever since this virus was announced. An example of some that I’ve heard are – China did this on purpose to wipe out Americans, the virus was manufactured in a lab in North Carolina, stolen by Canadian spies, smuggled into China and released to bring down Donald Trump, that we’re looking at bio-warfare, and that George Soros is the mastermind behind it all. None of that is true, by the way, but something DID happen, somewhere, somehow. If not, we wouldn’t be talking about a deadly virus that continues to sweep across the entire world.
Supposedly, the virus was created as the result of consuming a bat, resulting in a severe mutation inside the human body, infecting Patient Zero, who then continued to spread it to others, and anyone those came in contact with would have been exposed as well. Factually speaking, one person infected with this virus has the potential to infect thousands.
The bat theory is easy to believe if one considers the fact that bats are responsible for more than 200 viruses, with 60 of those being human-infecting ones, and almost all of them are RNA viruses. Bats are zoonotic reservoir hosts to a multitude of diseases, and have the capability of causing rapid, and extremely high, mutation ratios when passing the virus to a human host. In layman’s terms, the bat may carry a particular disease but not be sick itself; however, if that infected bat is eaten by a human, the harmless-to-the-bat virus becomes deadly to its human host. Bats are carriers for a plethora of illnesses, such as rabies and SARS, and are the original hosts of Ebola and Nipah, which causes deadly brain fevers in people. There are 1,240 different species of bats, but they all have the same thing in common – the capability of virus mutation that has the ability to annihilate mankind. Some of the more serious illnesses associated with bats are: Marburg Virus – also known as hemorrhagic fever; Nipah – a zoonotic virus transmitted from animals to humans or through contaminated food or directly between people. Illnesses range from asymptomatic infection to acute respiratory illness and fatal encephalitis; Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever – spread by contact with bodily fluids such as blood. Initial symptoms are fever, headache, muscle pain and chills. Later, a person may experience internal bleeding, resulting in coughing or vomiting blood.
Is that what happened in this instance?
Maybe, maybe not. First of all, bats are not sold at the live markets in Wuhan, China, which is supposedly where this particular bat came from. There is, however, the Wuhan Institute of Virology, where research into coronaviruses is conducted – using bats. Also there is the Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory, housed in the Chinese Academy of Sciences, specifically designed to help Chinese scientists “prepare for and respond to future infectious disease outbreaks,” according to a 2019 report from the CDC. Research is conducted on Biosafety Levels 1-4, with 4 housing the deadliest, most infectious strains of viruses known to mankind. Is it possible that the new virus is actually the result of a laboratory accident? Yes, it is. If so, don’t ever expect to learn the truth because that is not the type of information that is willfully divulged to the general public.
Due to the genome sequence data, it has been scientifically proven that the virus is NOT lab-made, but definitively mutated from bats, containing the same pathogen associated with SARS.
Not only has this virus affected people’s lives by taking their loved ones away, the economy has also taken a calamitous hit due to loss of jobs, the closing of schools and businesses, mandatory stay at home orders, shortages of much needed supplies such as toilet paper and paper towels, being told when they can shop and what they can buy, and not even a glimpse of when we may begin to see some degree of normalcy.
This is not our government attempting a coup or a takeover, this is not an experiment in terror and/or mass control, this is not the beginning of socialism – this is a deadly virus that has the potential to wipe us all off the face of the earth.
People are restless and I understand that. While a majority of citizens choose to abide by the orders and guidelines set forth in their individual states, there are others who are defiant, refusing to follow any orders, going about their daily business as usual. What I have to say about that is this…..this is NOT just about you! Think about those you may unwillingly expose. They don’t know who you’ve been around or who any of the others have been around. Should innocent people who are being compliant die because of someone else’s selfishness and refusal to adhere to recommendations?
Let me reiterate what I said at the beginning…THIS VIRUS MUTATION HAS NEVER BEFORE BEEN SEEN IN HUMANS. Is that clear enough for you? The bottom line is that even the scientists and professionals don’t know what they’re dealing with. The recommendations being made by state and local officials has nothing to do with trying to control you…it’s to protect you and hopefully prevent you or your loved ones from becoming ill, or worse, dying. There is no cure. There is no vaccine and won’t be for at least 12-18 months, and that’s only IF they can pinpoint exactly how this virus works in attacking the human body so that they’ll know what they’re aiming for. Until then, we have to look out for each other and take the necessary measures to ensure each other’s safety, and if that means staying home, then so be it.
This isn’t going to last forever. Light will eventually appear at the end of the tunnel. And when it does, we can ALL breathe a sigh of relief and hopefully, put it all behind us.
We are ALL in this together.
God bless you all, each and every one of you.