In 1965, scientists identified the first human coronavirus; it was associated with the common cold. The Coronavirus family, named for their crown-like appearance, currently includes 36 viruses. Within that group, there are 4 common viruses that have been causing infection in humans for more than sixty years. In addition, three pandemic coronaviruses that can infect humans: SARS, MERS, and now, SARS-CoV-2.
As the news of deaths in China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran began to saturate every form of media 24/7, we became familiar with a new term: COVID-19. To be clear, the name of the newly identified coronavirus is SARS-CoV-2, short for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2. This virus is associated with fever, cough, chest pain, and shortness of breath, the complex of symptoms that form the diagnosis of COVID-19.
The Trump administration declared a public health emergency on January 31, 2020, then on February 2 placed a ban on the entry of most travelers who had recently been in China. On February 4, Alex Azar, the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a declaration of public health emergency and activated the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act, otherwise known as the PREP Act. This nefarious legislation provides complete protection of manufacturers from liability for all products, technologies, biologics, or any vaccine developed as a medical countermeasure against COVID-19. For those nervously waiting for the vaccine to become available, be sure to understand the PREP Act before rushing to the get in line.
Calls for testing – to see if a person is or isn’t infected – began soon after the emergency was declared, but performing those tests was initially slow due to an inadequate number of test kits. As the kits became available, those developed by the CDC had a defect: The reagents reacted to the negative control sample, making the test inaccurate and the kits unusable.
In various countries, thousands of test kits purchased from China were found to be contaminated with the SARS-CoV-2 viruses. No one really knows how that happened, but theories spread like wildfire. Could the test kit infect the person being tested? Or, did it mean the test would return a false-positive result,