COVID 101 – some Frequently Asked Questions about COVID
With many of my patients now having been vaccinated against COVID or having recovered from a mild episode of COVID (or both), I am now accustomed to being accosted by various friends, acquaintances and patients with “What I still can’t understand about this COVID business is……”
In order to answer what are the commonly asked questions about COVID – or Coronavirus Number 19 to give the germ its official name – let me summarise the basic facts about this disease:
- The Coronoviruses are a type of germ (or Virus) that can infect human beings.
- There are many types of Coronavirus. Some viruses of this large family are responsible for causing the common cold (known in Sri Lanka as Hembirissawa or Thadiman) and the ‘Flu.
- COVID refers to a virulent type of virus from this Coronavirus group. It is a germ that can cause very serious illness if it manages to get inside your body and go down into your lungs. This virus spreads easily from an infected person to others – and if the germ goes down your airways into your lungs, it can cause life-threatening damage there.
- You can catch COVID if someone who already has these germs in their airways coughs out these germs – or sneezes or breathes them out – into the air that you then breathe. Therefore close contact with someone who has COVID infection makes you vulnerable to catching the germ from them
- Taking two or three doses of COVID vaccination gives you protection.This is not 101% protection – but protection aginst a SERIOUS attack of COVID that you would be extremely unlikely to have if you are not vaccinated.
- Vaccination stimulates the WHITE CELLS and ANTIBODIES (whose function is to fight invading germs) within your body to increase in number. They become programmed so that if a COVID germ manages to enter your throat (from the air you breathe), your body’s own “prepared” defences can destroy the germ before it can get inside your body into your lungs and cause harm.
- If you are vaccinated and also keep your distance from anybody infected with the COVID germ, then the germ is very unlikely to enter your throat – and even less likely to get inside your body.
- If you have been vaccinated, then even if you get infected with COVID (when the germ gets inside your throat), the germ is extremely unlikely to go down from your throat into your lungs and get an opportunity to damage your lungs.
- The symptoms that a person who gets ill with COVID (when the germ has invaded their lungs) are: severe body pains and weakness, high temperature, severe cough and breathlessness.
- When they do a test on someone suspected of having COVID infection, they use a swab to take a sample from your throat and test this to check if you have COVID germs in your throat. Testing can be done either by using a Rapid Antigen Test (known as a RAT, which gives results almost immediately but cannot be relied on as 100% accurate) or by doing a PCR Test, which is more accurate but takes at least six hours, sometimes longer, to give a results.
- If your test is reported as NEGATIVE, you can assume for all practical purposes that there are no COVID germs in your throat.
- Main thing if you have tested NEGATIVE to COVID but still feel unwell is to rest, eat sensibly and take paracetemol or disprin, particularly if you have a mild fever or feel headachy.