Coronavirus disease 2019 is an ongoing global pandemic that started in 2020. COVID-19 is caused by “an enveloped positive-sense single-stranded RNA virus” known as the severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus-2 (Ali and Kunugi 2). SARS-CoV-2 is transmitted by contaminated fluids and surfaces, mainly during contact between infected and uninfected persons. Thus far, the virus is responsible for 363,615,249 registered cases and 5,647,268 deaths, and the numbers only rise day by day (“COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic”). There is no specific treatment for COVID-19 to date, and vaccination, while protecting from life-threatening scenarios, does not prevent contagion as SARS-CoV-2 rapidly evolves. It is vital to understand COVID-19 symptoms and long-term effects and investigate possible treatments to accumulate knowledge and raise awareness about the disease to reduce its spread and mortality rates.
A wide range of symptoms and diversity in reactions to the virus characterize COVID-19. Most people are asymptomatic or experience mild symptoms (80.9%); others have severe problems (13.8%), while in 4.7% of cases, the disease manifests in critical condition (“Coronavirus Symptoms (COVID-19)”). Known risk factors are older age, cardiovascular and respiratory conditions, diabetes, and cancer. Symptoms are similar to other acute respiratory infections and influenza, which are fever, dry cough, tiredness, and muscle pain. These may be further aggravated to shortness of breath and pneumonia or, in the worst-case scenario, “respiratory failure, septic shock, and multi-organ failure” (“Coronavirus Symptoms (COVID-19)”). Some people report sensory loss or distortion of smell and taste and headaches. Cold-like symptoms such as nasal congestion or sore throat are rare, with approximately 5% of patients observing them (“Coronavirus Symptoms (COVID-19)”). Other atypical but possible symptoms are diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting (“Coronavirus Symptoms (COVID-19)”). As such, COVID-19 is an extremely multisymptomatic illness, and it is hard to predict how it will affect a particular person.
The research of the disease’s long-term effects on the body is ongoing. COVID-19 is known to cause severe damage to internal organs, especially the lungs. It also often affects the heart, kidneys, and brain. The disease may result in “long-term breathing problems, heart complications, chronic kidney impairment, stroke, and Guillain-Barre syndrome” or, in some cases, multisystem inflammatory syndrome (Mayo Clinic). Other complications include blood clots, vessel problems, acute respiratory syndrome, and chronic fatigue syndrome (Mayo Clinic). In the mental health context, the pandemic raises stress levels, and there is a correlation between COVID-19 and heightened risk of anxiety and depression. As a result, healthcare professionals should monitor patients’ recovery to prevent complications and provide them with psychological counseling.
As there is no specific anti-Covid treatment, the therapy is focused on improving immunity, preventing and repairing organ damages, and inhibiting the growth of the virus. Ali and Kunugi note that the drugs, including antiviral agents, antibiotics, anti-inflammatory, and immunostimulatory medicine, are being “repurposed for COVID-19 treatment without evidence of efficacy in humans” (2). That leads to adverse side effects and increases the risk of complications, prompting scientists to investigate current therapy and other possible treatments, namely natural agents like propolis, bee honey, and their components. Several studies confirm that apitherapy has anti-covid potential, inhibiting SARS-CoV-2 proteins, stimulating the immune system, and reducing oxidative stress (Ali and Kunugi 15-16). Researchers used propolis and honey combined with herbal plants and observed “improved viral clearance and symptom recovery along with earlier discharge from the hospital and decreased mortality” (Ali and Kunugi 16). However, more research on the beneficial and detrimental effects of natural agents and other drugs is necessary to create a comprehensive and all-inclusive approach to treating patients with COVID-19.
In conclusion, COVID-19 is a disease and ongoing global pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 that rapidly evolves and is highly contagious. The virus mainly causes mild symptoms but can lead to severe and critical conditions, damaging the respiratory system and other organs. It has a wide range of symptoms similar to influenza and may result in death without sufficient medical monitoring and support. There are no specific anti-covid agents, and various drugs are repurposed for treatment. Natural agents should be used in anti-covid therapy, and further investigations are needed to create efficient methods of prevention and cure.
Ali, Amira Mohammed, and Hiroshi Kunugi. “Propolis, Bee Honey, and Their Components Protect against Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): A Review of In Silico, In Vitro, and Clinical Studies.” Molecules, vol. 26, no. 5, 2021, p. 1232. Web.
“Coronavirus Symptoms (COVID-19).” Worldometer, Web.
“COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic.” Worldometer, Web.
Mayo Clinic. “COVID-19 (coronavirus): Long-term effects.” Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, Web.