Those things which we had seen till now over science fiction movies like the world facing an onslaught of deadly viruses and significant protagonists of the film fighting all odds come to rescue the world from its clutches. All these seemed so thrilling when over screens, but certainly not pleasing in real life. Well COVID-19 or Corona virus as better known, has thrown us with some of these challenges.
What is Corona virus or COVID-19?
Corona viruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses Which cause Illness which range from the frequent cold to more severe diseases like Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is a new strain that was discovered in 2019 and has not been previously identified in humans.
Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. Detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans.
Major viral diseases in recent times
In annals of human history, interaction with viruses had been since ages, so let us have a look over some of these viruses which had ravaged the various parts of the world.
- SARS – Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is caused by a new type of coronavirus. Other coronaviruses were known to cause mild infections in humans, so the virulence and rapid spread of this novel virus strain caused alarm among health professionals as well as public fear. The fears of a major pandemic were not realised, and by July 2003, after causing around 8,000 cases and 800 deaths, the outbreak had ended. The exact origin of the SARS virus is not known, but evidence suggests that it came from bats.
- Nipah Virus – In 1997 an outbreak of respiratory disease occurred in Malaysian farmers and their pigs. More than 265 cases of encephalitis, of which 105 were fatal, were recorded. A new paramyxoviruswas discovered in a victim’s brain; it was named Nipah virus, after the village where he had lived. The infection was caused by a virus from fruit bats, after their colony had been disrupted by deforestation. The bats had moved to trees nearer the pig farm and the pigs caught the virus from their droppings.
- Influenza – When influenza virus undergoes a genetic shiftmany humans have no immunity to the new strain, and if the population of susceptible individuals is high enough to maintain the chain of infection, pandemics occur. The genetic changes usually happen when different strains of the virus co-infect animals, particularly birds and swine. Although many viruses of vertebrates are restricted to one species, influenza virus is an exception.
- Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) – The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is the virus that – when the infection is not treated – can cause AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). Most virologists believe that HIV originated in sub-Saharan Africaduring the 20th century, and over 70 million individuals have been infected by the virus. By 2011, an estimated 35 million had died from AIDS, making it one of the most destructive epidemics in recorded history.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and its effects
Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, an infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
Well, its outbreak can be traced to Hubei, in the Wuhan province of China, where the earliest known case occurred on 17th of November 2019. Just last month, mainland China was reporting thousands of new cases every day and was considered the most high-risk infection area in the world.
The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.
- Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
- Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
These droplets can land into the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly inhaled into the lungs.
Virus being spread without being sick
- Being sick or being having symptoms of sick people are thought to be most contagious.
- Some might even spread the infection even before being showing symptoms of being sick.
Spread from contact with contaminated surfaces or objects
COVID-19 virus can get spread easily as such as like when an infected person touches a surface or an object while coughing or sneezing when some other person touches or holds that object or ever might be inhaled directly to lungs if he is within close distance.
This is the stage when people who get infected do not know how they got infected with the virus in a given area, probably they got infected through some infected person who was present in the large crowd.
Since the threat has lessened in China, the worldwide infection rate continues to accelerate, with nations across multiple continents currently grappling with fast-expanding outbreaks in the own. In response to this outbreak, democratic states such as Italy, France and the Philippines have enacted policies very similar to those found in China, putting countless under partial or full lockdowns.
As of 12th March 2020, the virus had infected more than 218,800 people worldwide. Being labelled as a pandemic by WHO, its effects too are far-reaching upon people living worldwide. Bank of America had already said that the global economy is in state of recession, and one of its reason can be referred to this pandemic outbreak of COVID-19.
As of now, India too hadn’t come out of this pandemic. As an exception from its clutches, which include issues like slowdown of the economy. The Chinese economy was hit severely by the coronavirus outbreak, with retail sales plunging 20.5% compared to a year earlier, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. At the same time, industrial output also fell 13.5% during the same period, while fixed asset investment plunged 24.5%.
Coronavirus or COVID-19 had changed the lives of almost all people worldwide, and people are forced to self-quarantine themselves or to be quarantined by their respective govt as the risk of transmitting the infection is quite looming large. This confinement within four walls is bringing on much sedentary lifestyle than earlier when people at least used to venture out of their homes to reach their workplace.
Effects upon India in a nutshell
Govt of India is mulling plans about taking steps, which could soften the impact as said by Finance Minister. Even Prime Minister’s recent address to the nation on the outbreak of Coronavirus mentioned it as a significant challenge of the present time which can be overcome by ‘Restraint’ and ‘Resilience’. He also called to countrymen to participate in a self-quarantine initiative named as “Janta Curfew” which was practised on 22nd March 2020. Which was widely applauded for being countrywide successful due to active participation of citizens everywhere, which gives much-needed hope that India as a country of an ancient civilization, can take battle head-on against Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Challenges before government
One of the gravest concern is that there had been issues of quarantined people being running away from quarantine centres; some are influential people hiding their travel history of visiting affected countries for fear of being quarantined. Also, not to forget those people who, by somehow try to give the slip to medical authorities, by showing their clout and lobby. Like a recent case where people are defying the medical advice, further risking others’ lives too.
With these types of irresponsible behaviour, combatting with this deadly COVID-19 is being turned into as highly challenging. But are our various types of machinery able to tackle it with present arrangements or could it had been better if we incorporate some new technological methods?
What role may technologies play to fight COVID-19
Surveillance has been continuously present, such as smartphones transmitting their places to wireless carriers and frequently too significant technology firms also, such as Google and Facebook, to create a few of their services operate. The program uses these surveillance to provide weather reports, hail rides or perhaps to provide instructions on the street like Google maps perform for navigation.
- Infected people whom are placed under mandatory home quarantine can be monitored by their respective authorities.
- Those suspected of infection or having symptoms can be monitored about their movements of interaction with others
- Community well-being can be monitored in public places, lockdown if announced by respective authorities, being followed by citizens or not.
Such commercial applications of place data many times contribute to Calling for stricter laws regulating its use and there’s quite thin line between solitude and pandemic policy, therefore proper program od engineering can be blessing for combating COVID-19.
Smart surveillance Concerning tracking the wellbeing of Individuals on real-time basis could be done in order to prevent additional outbreak of the pandemic. Additionally, drones may be placed for smart surveillance within this vital moment.
AI can help in quick decision making on real time basis
Decision-makers struggle to forecast where and if the requirement will come, in addition to just how much of it will be. It’s here where AI will help by identifying patterns and forecasting what’s going to happen next. It assists decision-makers to cope with data overload by catching and capturing data from many different sources.
Roles Blockchain can play
Inflow of spurious and fake products had always been an issue but these things happen a lot more during some crisis. So here blockchain comes to play, where we can track the origin of any product which is genuine or not. Blockchain can help because it provides and open, distributed record of transactions Everyone who needs to be able to see the record is able to – but no one is able to either modify or delete it.
Prompt medical care can be administered to patients through decentralized data storage system of blockchain, which is also one of secured systems.
Smart contracts –
Blockchain enables smart contracts, which automatically transfer funds when specified conditions are met. A company named Brooklyn Micro grid uses smart contracts to allow homes with solar panels to sell energy to their neighbours, where every unit is automatically counted and paid for using blockchain technology. Prompt payment for health workers and others.
Trust building –
Blockchain shifts trust in people and institutions to trust technology. This means that having to trust the cryptography, the software, the computers, the network and the very people whom are on this network. Building of trust can prevent of panic buying of products for fear of collapsing of supplies or the sanitizing workers whom are working round the clock, without fearing about not being paid as payment will be made through automated Blockchain system.
Bridging demand and supply gap –
Here again supply chain of blockchain comes to rescue, where demand and supply gap is there. One of these is predicting how people respond to unprecedented events such as breakdown of Coronavirus pandemic. With recent unexpected surge in demand for hand sanitizers, people panic buying them is a proof that our existing supply system is not that efficient, that people are having lack of trust
Payment systems –
Being having robust security of blockchain, it can aid various govts in streamlining various donations as relief funds and prevent fraudulent transactions. Such payments can be made through state of art secured Blockchain technology, which can well function without bringing the active role of banks.
Without any efforts and global response this COVID-19 could had wiped off 40 million people worldwide, but thanks to collective conscience of humanity, that over govts are trying their level best to contain it into as fast as they can. In these testing times how can one forget the efforts of our medical fraternity and their ongoing effort at making vaccine.
Therefore, we can sum it up that COVID-19 can be controlled only if people are diligent, where we as society must start including much smart practises which new edge cutting modern age technologies can offer.
Stay safe, Stay healthy!