The usual optimism that comes with a new year did not last long in 2020. Between the potential threat of a world war (fueled by the Iran–United States conflict) and the actual threat of a coronavirus, the past few months have been tense. These are scary times, and the Internet seems to be filled with rumors and misinformation, and no small amount of pearl-clutching.
Let’s clear up the first misconception. The coronavirus is not called COVID-19. Instead, COVID-19 is the name of the disease caused by the virus. That virus has been dubbed SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2). Think of it like AIDS and HIV. AIDS is the name of the disease. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.
Unlike our previous Wuhan flu lists, we’re going to keep things a bit lighter here. We’ll focus on the curious side of the virus and the disease, including some interesting details we haven’t covered yet.
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10 The Corona Beer Brand Was Damaged
Talk about bad luck! The Corona beer logo has a crown on it. The word “corona” means “crown” in Spanish and Latin. Coincidentally, the coronavirus got its name from the crown-like spikes on the surface of the virus particles.
When some people first heard about the new virus, they were confused and may have associated it with the Corona beer brand. They may have even believed that the virus was spread by drinking the beer. It is unclear how much of an impact this mistaken belief has had on sales of the beer as various sources have reported different results.
According to YouGov, a British market research firm, Corona beer’s buzz score—a measure of the popularity of the brand—has dropped from 75 to 51 since the beginning of 2020.
9 The Whistleblower Scientist Was Killed By COVID-19
It’s almost like the coronavirus is trying to eliminate any witnesses. In an unsettling irony, Li Wenliang died after contracting COVID-19. Li, a Chinese doctor who worked at Wuhan Central Hospital, was known for being vocal about the dangers of this emerging virus.
At least as early as December 30, 2019, Li warned fellow medics about the possibility of an outbreak. The Chinese police advised him to stop “making false comments” in a government attempt to sweep the situation under the rug.
After Li’s unfortunate death, a big part of the Chinese population was understandably upset. This propelled the hashtags “Wuhan government owes Dr Li Wenliang an apology” and “We want freedom of speech” to trend on Weibo, a Chinese social media site. The Chinese government was quick to censor both hashtags.
This latest controversy only adds fuel to the difficult relationship between Chinese authorities and their population. In 2019, the tension between mainland China and Hong Kong reached a breaking point due to resistance from Hong Kong against the government’s policies.
8 The Coronavirus Is Deadlier For Men
Chinese scientists have found that men and women are equally likely to be infected by the coronavirus. But fatalities in China have occurred at a rate of 2.8 percent for men compared to 1.7 percent for women, suggesting that men are more likely to die when infected. Keep in mind that these statistics may understate the rate of infection in both groups, so these percentages could be revised with new information.
At present, the most probable reason for the gender difference can be attributed to something that scientists already knew: The female immune response is stronger than that of males.
Although the exact reason for this is still unknown, it is believed to be linked to either the higher levels of estrogen hormone in women or the fact that each woman has two X chromosomes as opposed to a man’s one X chromosome.
Both factors contribute to immunity. This gender difference could occur for evolutionary reasons as women have to remain healthy for prolonged times to bear children and nurture them.
7 COVID-19 Has Already Killed More People Than SARS
As of this writing, we are about three months into this new epidemic. Is there any real reason for panic?
At first glance, it seems that there might be. In an absolute sense, Wuhan flu has already killed more people than SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), which was caused by another strain of coronavirus in the early 2000s. However, the percentages tell a different story.
As of this writing, 101,906 people have contracted COVID-19 and 3,465 have died of it. On the other hand, 8,098 people became ill with SARS and 774 perished. So far, the overall death rate from COVID-19 appears to be 3.4 percent, while the fatality rate from SARS was a whopping 9.6 percent.
Of course, any deaths from COVID-19 are too many. But a major concern regarding this disease is how easily—and sneakily—it can spread. If you are within 1.8 meters (6 ft) of an infected person, you are considered to be at risk. That makes any subway a potential hot spot for contamination.
Furthermore, it can take up to two weeks for a person to develop symptoms. That makes this new virus almost as easy to catch as the common cold, but COVID-19 is far more lethal.
6 The Coronavirus May Also Kill The Global Economy In 2020
The global economy behaves somewhat like a living being, and it started 2020 with a nasty bug. According to the World Bank, the initial projections for global growth in 2020 were 2.5 percent, slightly above the post-crisis low recorded in 2019.
To make things worse, the coronavirus epidemic is affecting China, one of the most powerful economies in the world. According to a February 2020 Reuters poll of economists in China, their nation’s annual economic growth in the first quarter of 2020 is expected to decline to 4.5 percent from around 6.0 percent in the previous quarter.
Much of this is due to the outbreak, and it’s expected to affect us all. However, these economists predict that economic growth could rebound rather quickly if the outbreak is effectively contained.
How can this epidemic harm the economy so dramatically?
Well, people are much less inclined to travel and use other services at this time because they are afraid of being exposed to the virus. However, we should expect an increase in subscriptions to Netflix and other streaming platforms as people binge-watch shows while hiding in their houses.
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5 Some People Believe That The Coronavirus Is A Bioweapon Going Rogue
Where there is the Internet, there are conspiracy theories. The COVID-19 epidemic has been handled in a surprisingly mature way by people on the Internet (except for a meme or two). However, the surge of new cases outside Wuhan, especially in South Korea and Italy, has led some people to be suspicious. The mysterious death of the whistleblower did not help, either.
These speculations are not true, although they certainly have attracted the attention of many people. According to one theory, China engineered the coronavirus as a weapon. The virus was then released to make space for agricultural expansion.
Even politicians seem to have conspiracy fever. US Senator Tom Cotton also accused the Chinese government of foul play.
4 Like Everything Else, The Virus Has Become An Issue Of Racism And Politics
Wuhan flu is not the first outbreak that originated in China. Notoriously, SARS and the Asian flu also started there. On top of the fear and uncertainty generated by this new epidemic, Asians have to deal with racism and xenophobia.
Anti-Chinese sentiment has been building up in the past two months. These reactions are perhaps understandable but definitely not reasonable. Most of the spread to other nations is due to non-Asians visiting China and returning to their countries rather than the other way around.
2/ “‘YO VIRUS-BOY! Don’t infect us!’ So Andrew Zhou, a Chinese-Canadian in Vancouver, has been taunted in the school playground.”https://t.co/XV2mDFoGI6
— Tony Martin-Vegue (@tdmv) February 20, 2020
Reports of xenophobia against Chinese people are becoming common. “Yo, virus-boy! Don’t infect us“ was yelled at a Chinese-Canadian student in Vancouver. In another example, the hashtag #ChineseDon’tCometoJapan was trending on Twitter among Japanese users. On the other hand, the Chinese government downplaying or outright lying about the virus is not helping matters much.
3 You Are Not Immune Even After Surviving The First Encounter With The Coronavirus
Can lightning strike the same place twice? Well, yes, that’s the whole point of surge arresters. Unfortunately, when it comes to the coronavirus, the same principle applies.
Let’s say you got the virus and were able to bounce back. You are fine, right?
No, not really. Recently, a Japanese woman was diagnosed with COVID-19 for the second time. The woman is a tour bus guide in Osaka, which makes her more easily exposed to infection due to the number of people with whom she interacts.
That news is grim because it heightens the potential impact of the disease. Furthermore, it makes the development of an effective vaccine less viable. Scientists are still trying to figure out how the coronavirus can infect the same person twice or if there is another explanation for the double positive results.
2 Did It All Start With Bats, Snakes, Or Even Pangolins?
At this point, many people have heard about the most probable origin of the coronavirus: bats. China has a reputation for having a peculiar local cuisine as wild animals can be bought at outdoor markets and eaten. One native delicacy includes an allegedly delicious (and quite creepy) bat soup.
Scientists are currently trying to determine which animal is responsible for transmitting the virus to humans, but they are still unsure. Two other potential culprits include snakes and pangolins.
If you’re unfamiliar with pangolins, they are adorable mammals with scaly bodies that can curl into a ball when under threat. Pangolins can be found naturally in Asia and Africa. But these creatures are trafficked all over the world because they are considered a delicacy. It makes you think that this whole catastrophe could have been avoided if people would just leave wild animals alone.
1 A Virus-Detecting Giant Robot Was Roaming New York
If you were in New York in early February 2020, you might have come across a figure straight out of Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot. This cybernetic paramedic was created by Promobot, a Pennsylvania-based company. The droid was being tested in and around parks.
Supposedly, the 152-centimeter-tall (5’0″) robot could screen for the coronavirus by wandering the streets asking people if they had fevers. In Bryant Park, the robot was quickly banned for not having a permit.
Some individuals who crossed paths with the droid described it as “cute.” Others thought it was “overkill” and creepy. (They obviously didn’t know that the bot can dance to Pitbull and sing Beatles’ tunes.)
Oleg Kivorkutsev, the founder of Promobot, explained, “We were trying to tell people about the virus . . . [and bring] attention to the problem.”
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