CORONA in 2003?



Nihara Lijan

As surprising as it may seem, there was another disease outbreak in 2003 that is related to the coronavirus. Coronavirus isn’t the name of one disease but it is a type of virus. What we are going through is COVID-19 so Coronavirus Disease 2019. Back in 2003, there was another disease called SARS.

SARS stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. SARS Coronavirus (SARS-CoV) was also thought to be an animal virus spread by bats to cats to humans in China. This epidemic affected 26 countries and resulted in more than 8000 cases in 2003. Some cases occurred as a result of various laboratory accidents or animal to human transmission. Some symptoms of the disease are influenza-like and can include fever, headache, discomfort, or shivering unnecessarily. Usually on the second week of the illness, the symptoms tend to be dry coughs and shortness of breath. Later on, it gets more rapidly severe and progresses into respiratory distress and it would requiring intensive care which is where is gets its name of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.

SARS, the Spanish Flu, and Ebola all have helped public health officials prepare for any other major outbreaks. COVID-19 has its similarities and differences among these three other outbreaks. The Spanish flu infected almost a third of the world’s population while COVID-19 does have significantly high numbers in certain parts of the world. Ebola was extremely deadly and had a death rate of 50% but it wasn’t as contagious as COVID-19. There are no treatments for COVID-19 yet other than support from doctors and family members but a vaccine might be available in about a year.

How was SARS stopped?

SARS was a lot less contagious and was easy to control and handle compared to COVID-19. The international health organization played a key leadership role in combating the spread of SARS and forged a global response to this first global outbreak of the century. First, many countries used to change the amount of deaths that occurred in their country for example, instead of 200, they would say 100. Neighboring countries realized this and they were told to tell the accurate amount to help prevent he disease as much as possible. This way, they could get a precise amount of medical help to save people’s lives. Second, the laboratory scientists helped figure out the genome (molecular formula) of the disease which helped increase the chance of a treatment. There is still no clear understanding of how this disease stopped but since then scientist have been trying to be careful and prepared so that there wont be another outbreak until Ebola and COVID-19 occurred.