Why COVID-19 is lethal and how it can be eradicated

COVID-19 structure.

The novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) that has so far infected 2,996,614 people and killed 207,023 others globally continues to pose a great danger to human life.  

According to Prof. Omu Anzala, a virologist and immunologist at KAVI-Institute of Clinical Research (KAVI-ICR) at the University of Nairobi (UoN), the disease continues to be lethal because of its mode of transmission.

“It is dangerous because of ease of transmission. When an infected person coughs or sneezes, the virus is released into the environment and also settles on surfaces. So when you touch on that surface and at the same time touch your eyes, nose and mouth you get infected,” Prof. Anzala said in an interview on KBC English Service.

Prof. Anzala also noted that there could be people who could be having the infection but they are not sick, they look normal and just walk around, they do not have the symptoms at all but are transmitting the virus to the surfaces and to the environment.

“It is spreading very quickly because one person is able to infect 3 or 4 people unknowingly. The other thing with COVID-19 is that you come down with the infection very fast and it is mostly killing those with underlying conditions. If you are having an underlying medical condition then you are easily infected or can get a severe disease,” Prof. Anzala said.

Eradicating COVID-19

On how and when COVID-19 will be eradicated from the face of the earth, Prof. Anzala said developing an effective COVID-19 vaccine will be the only way out.

“The only way we are going to eradicate this virus is not through treatment but through getting an effective COVID-19 vaccine. A virus cannot be eradicated through treatment, but it can be eradicated by prevention,” Prof. Anzala said.

He said the measures that have been put in place are geared towards ensuring that the infection rate is low and give scientists time to understand this virus more and develop medication for treatment as well as development of a vaccine.

He added that their approach now is prevention as much as possible, look for treatment as much as possible and then look for a vaccine, and all these things are being done concurrently.

Prof. Anzala is leading a team from UoN that has joined the global search for the vaccine as countries grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic.