Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has caused immense disease and economic burden across the globe. United, the world is combating the pandemic since its first outbreak in Wuhan, China in December 2019. Possible animal sources of COVID-19 have not yet been confirmed. But did you know coronaviruses are not the new viruses. They have a history of about 9 decades since its evolution first came into existence.
COVID-19 crisis has led to a massive influx of publications. Not only are specialty journals being flooded with submissions by authors being unwittingly granted much needed writing time, but publications on COVID have literally inundated us.
More than 20,000 papers have been published since December 2019, many in prestigious journals. There are also an increasing number of studies being uploaded to preprint servers, such as BioRxiv, for rapid dissemination prior to any peer review. However, we cannot assume that the time and quality available for peer review is able to keep pace with the explosion of publication.
There is need for increased caution in the wake of this massive influx of submissions, especially since we are increasingly seeing these results being picked up by the media and diffused to a less attuned audience. In recent weeks, several prestigious journals, including the Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine, have published retractions of earlier and potentially major COVID-related findings . On June 15, 2020, The New York Times highlighted potential lapses in the peer review process affecting major scientific journals
Coronaviruses were first discovered in the 1930s with an acute respiratory infection in domesticated chickens.1 These are well-established pathogens of humans and animals from the virus family Coronaviridae.2 Human coronaviruses were discovered in the 1960s.
The earliest ones studied were from human patients with the common cold, which were later named human coronavirus 229E and human coronavirus OC43. These virus displayed a characteristic fringe of large, distinctive, petal-shaped spikes which resembled a crown, hence the name “Coronavirus”.3 Coronaviruses are large, enveloped, positive-stranded RNA viruses. They have the largest genome among all RNA viruses, typically ranging from 27 to 32 kb.4
Types of Coronavirus
Among them, alpha- and betacoronaviruses infect mammals, gammacoronaviruses infect avian species, and deltacoronaviruses infect both mammalian and avian species.4
Coronaviruses common symptoms include fever, cough, fatigue, cold and upper respiratory tract infections throughout the world, in all age groups.6,7
Every day, we encounter billions of germs, but they’re not all bad. Intangible but effective, Immunity ensures resistance against harmful microorganisms from entering the body and causing disease.
In the past week, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) the number of new COVID-19 cases and deaths continued to decrease, with over 2.6 million new cases and 72 000 new deaths reported globally. While the number of cases reported globally now exceeds 175 million, over the past week, the lowest weekly case incidence since February 2021 was reported. Declines in the number of new weekly cases, compared to the previous week, were reported across all Regions except for the African Region. The number of new deaths reported in the past week decreased across all the regions except for the African and South-East Asia Regions.
In this edition, a special focus update on variants is provided, including a newly designated variant of interest (VOI), along with the geographical distribution of variants of concern (VOCs) Alpha (B.1.1.7), Beta (B.1.351), Gamma (P.1) and Delta (B.1.617.2). This edition also includes an update about strengthening public health intelligence through event-based surveillance, specifically learning from the COVID-19 pandemic.