Top 7 COVID-19 mysteries still unanswered

1. How the virus came to be after all

The main hypothesis is still that we got SARS-CoV-2 from bats in China. There are many coronaviruses circulating among them, and some of them have already caused epidemics, for example in 2002. However, the new coronavirus had to pass through another animal species before it acquired the ability to infect humans - and the search for this intermediate host has still not been successful. Tests taken from animals sold at the so-called "wet market" in Wuhan, which was identified in early 2020 as the original point of transmission to humans, have failed to identify the virus. That said, a mass of scientists believe that the virus is still of artificial origin and "accidentally slipped away" from a well-known laboratory in the same city - with the Chinese authorities realizing everything much earlier than they reported it to the rest of the world.

2. How will the pandemic end after all, if it happens

Many physicians believe that if world governments under pressure from many circumstances choose a "coexistence with coronavirus" strategy, as early as next summer, incidence rates in almost all nations will markedly exceed the level of the corresponding period in 2020. Young people who have no additional risk factors (and therefore have not received the vaccine) will be particularly at risk. This could force Europe to change its approach and finally take its cue from Asia, which in early 2020 adopted the harshest, most draconian measures in a matter of days to limit the spread of the coronavirus - up to and including nailing down the doors of the apartments of those sick and imposing a total 24-hour curfew.

3. What is the mortality rate?

In people over the age of 80 the mortality rate is between 25 and 50 percent.

The overall mortality rate from COVID-19 has so far ranged from 0.5 to 1 percent of those infected, but the mortality rate is directly related to their age. In people over the age of 80, it ranges from 25 to 50 percent. In those aged 50 to 70, it is as high as 10 percent, especially with additional aggravating factors such as lung and heart disease, diabetes or obesity. And those conditions affect nearly half of the people in that age group. Among people under 50, the mortality rate is about one per thousand, which is close to the rate of normal influenza.

4. How is the new coronavirus most commonly transmitted

Since the summer of 2020, several major studies have been published on the subject - but one firm answer has not been forthcoming. A number of doctors are convinced that saliva drops (e.g., from kissing and sharing utensils) are the main route of transmission, while the aerosol route (i.e., if someone sneezes or coughs next to you) plays a secondary role. Nor is there general consensus in the medical world on whether SARS-CoV-2 is transmitted through contaminated surfaces - and how long it remains active and viable on them.

5. Whether and how the disease can still be treated.

Over the course of a year, medics have tried what appears to be every known suitable drug that used to treat both malaria and pediculosis on patients. These included drugs with serious side effects - and in most cases without any noticeable positive result. From chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to dexamethasone to ivermectin and colchicine. However, in some cases, these drugs have still been shown to inexplicably reduce mortality and the need for "invasive mechanical ventilation," that is, hooking up to ventilators, among severely or critically ill people.

Deterioration of the clinical course of the disease depends on the body's immune response

Studies have confirmed that almost 95 percent of people with COVID-19 at least accurately produce antibodies, the amount of which depends on the severity of the disease. And they can still be detected after six months, even in people who had the disease in its mildest form. However, doctors still cannot say how many antibodies are needed to prevent reinfection.

7. Why, after all, some cases are extremely serious and others are quite harmless

Over the year, doctors have come to the conclusion that the worsening clinical picture of the disease depends on the body's immune response - but it is difficult to predict this response. Some time ago, the main version of the death of many ill people was considered a so-called "cytokine storm", that is, over-activation of the proteins responsible for the transmission of signals in the cell during inflammation. Now, however, a new theory has emerged - that the main role is played by so-called "autoantibodies", i.e. specific antibodies directed, oddly enough, directly against our own body.

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