Coronavirus is officially termed SARS-CoV-2. The leading hypothesis among doctors is that the virus “jumped” from a bat species to a large animal and then to humans. A Malaysian tiger in the Bronx zoo tested positive, as have cats in Wuhan. We know that ferrets can transmit between each other, though it seems the virus does not reproduce as well in dogs, pigs, chickens and ducks.
It’s difficult to predict what mild illness and infectivity in other species means for us as humans, as it is still early on. What we can safely bet on is that SARS-CoV-2 is here to stay. In scientific jargon, the virus is clearly endemic.
But we are evolving even faster! Why? Our big brains. Our ability to assess, share information, and plan has resulted in dramatic reduction in infectivity and death. We have irrefutable evidence that social distancing works. As we move forward and our communal knowledge grows, we will have ever more nuanced ways of both protecting ourselves and treating ourselves, all of which will result in getting back to a less isolated way of living.
We are already getting better at treating patients. Doctors, nurses and scientists are exchanging information on a daily basis. And this is a great thing for everybody.
So, as SARS-CoV-2 makes its way across our country and the world, we will begin to gauge which individuals, businesses, and/or communities do a better job of prevention and treatment. Just like medical care is evolving, so is the behavior of my local grocery store, for example, where plexiglass windows have gone up to help protect the mask-wearing cashiers.
And individually, we are adapting. We are paying attention to “people density” as we navigate through our communities for essential purposes. We are washing our hands, making our own masks, and finding ways to self-entertain.
It’s not been easy on anyone, but some bright spots are that folks have been able to reassess their lives, their relationships, what they want to do professionally, and even where they want to live.
Environmentally, there has been a noticeable change in the air. It’s clean. It’s quieter at night. I hear more birds. I can now smell the ocean from my home. More patients check in to see how I am doing. Conversations are less pressured, and last longer. How unexpected, and how welcomed.
So, even without the vaccine (which I expect to take a while) we are making significant gains in our response to this unprecedented virus.
Eduardo Dolhun, M.D.