The 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic is an ongoing pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The outbreak was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei, China, in December 2019, and was recognized as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on 11 March. As of 28 March 2020, more than 663,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in over 190 countries and territories, resulting in approximately 30,800 deaths. More than 141,000 people have since recovered.
The virus is mainly spread during close contact and via respiratory droplets produced when people cough or sneeze. Respiratory droplets may be produced during breathing but the virus is not considered airborne. People may also catch COVID-19 by touching a contaminated surface and then their face. It is most contagious when people are symptomatic, although spread may be possible before symptoms appear. The time between exposure and symptom onset is typically around five days, but may range from 2 to 14 days. Common symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Complications may include pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome. There is no known vaccine or specific antiviral treatment. Primary treatment is symptomatic and supportive therapy. Recommended preventive measures include hand washing, covering one's mouth when coughing, maintaining distance from other people, and monitoring and self-isolation for people who suspect they are infected.
Efforts to prevent the virus spreading include travel restrictions, quarantines, curfews, workplace hazard controls, event postponements and cancellations, and facility closures. These include the quarantine of Hubei, national or regional quarantines elsewhere in the world, curfew measures in China and South Korea, various border closures or incoming passenger restrictions, screening at airports and train stations, and outgoing passenger travel bans. Schools and universities have closed either on a nationwide or local basis in more than 160 countries, affecting more than 1.5 billion students.
The pandemic has led to severe global socioeconomic disruption, the postponement or cancellation of sporting, religious, and cultural events, and widespread fears of supply shortages which have spurred panic buying. Misinformation and conspiracy theories about the virus have spread online, and there have been incidents of xenophobia and racism against Chinese and other East and Southeast Asian people.
The 2020 stock market crash is a global stock market crash that began on 20 February, 2020. On 12 February, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the NASDAQ Composite, and S&P 500 Index all finished at record highs (while the NASDAQ and S&P 500 reached subsequent record highs on 19 February). From 24 to 28 February, stock markets worldwide reported their largest one-week declines since the 2008 financial crisis, thus entering a correction. Global markets into early March became extremely volatile, with large swings occurring in global markets. On 9 March, most global markets reported severe contractions, mainly in response to the 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic and an oil price war between Russia and the OPEC countries led by Saudi Arabia. This became colloquially known as Black Monday I, and at the time was the worst drop since the Great Recession in 2008.
Three days after Black Monday I there was another drop, Black Thursday, where stocks across Europe and North America fell more than 9%. Wall Street experienced its largest single-day percentage drop since Black Monday in 1987, and the FTSE MIB of the Borsa Italiana fell nearly 17%, becoming the worst-hit market during Black Thursday. Despite a temporary rally on 13 March (with markets posting their best day since 2008), all three Wall Street indexes fell more than 12% when markets re-opened on 16 March. At least one benchmark stock market index in all G7 countries and 14 of the G20 countries have been declared to be in bear markets.
As of March 2020, global stocks have seen a downturn of at least 25% during the crash, and 30% in most G20 nations. Goldman Sachs has warned that the US GDP will shrink 29% by the end of the 2nd quarter of 2020, and that unemployment may skyrocket to at least 9%. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called the looming economic crisis 'akin to the Great Depression'.
- "2020 Stock Market Crash" | 2020-03-16 | 264 Upvotes 199 Comments
Li Wenliang (Chinese: 李文亮; pinyin: Lǐ Wénliàng; 12 October 1986 – 7 February 2020) was a Chinese ophthalmologist who worked as a physician at Wuhan Central Hospital. Li warned his colleagues in December 2019 about a possible outbreak of an illness that resembled severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), later acknowledged as COVID-19. He became a whistleblower when his warnings were later shared publicly. On 3 January 2020, Wuhan police summoned and admonished him for "making false comments on the Internet". Li returned to work, later contracted the virus from an infected patient (who had been originally treated for glaucoma) and died from the disease on 7 February 2020, at age 33. A subsequent Chinese official inquiry exonerated him and the Communist Party formally offered a "solemn apology" to his family and revoked its admonishment of him.
- "Li Wenliang" | 2020-02-11 | 350 Upvotes 206 Comments
A COVID-19 vaccine is a hypothetical vaccine against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‑19). Although no vaccine has completed clinical trials, there are multiple attempts in progress to develop such a vaccine. In February 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) said it did not expect a vaccine against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the causative virus, to become available in less than 18 months. The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) – which is organizing a US$2 billion worldwide fund for rapid investment and development of vaccine candidates – indicated in April that a vaccine may be available under emergency use protocols in less than 12 months or by early 2021. On 4 May 2020, the WHO organized a telethon to raise US$8 billion from forty countries to support rapid development of vaccines to prevent COVID-19 infections, also announcing deployment of an international "Solidarity trial" for simultaneous evaluation of several vaccine candidates reaching Phase II-III clinical trials.
By May, 159 vaccine candidates were in development, with five having been initiated in Phase I–II safety and efficacy studies in human subjects, and seven in Phase I trials.
- "Covid-19 Vaccine Candidates" | 2020-05-20 | 53 Upvotes 63 Comments
Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), also known as extracorporeal life support (ECLS), is an extracorporeal technique of providing prolonged cardiac and respiratory support to persons whose heart and lungs are unable to provide an adequate amount of gas exchange or perfusion to sustain life. The technology for ECMO is largely derived from cardiopulmonary bypass, which provides shorter-term support with arrested native circulation. The device used is a membrane oxygenator, also known as an artificial lung.
ECMO works by temporarily drawing blood from the body to allow artificial oxygenation of the red blood cells and removal of carbon dioxide. Generally, it is used either post-cardiopulmonary bypass or in late-stage treatment of a person with profound heart and/or lung failure, although it is now seeing use as a treatment for cardiac arrest in certain centers, allowing treatment of the underlying cause of arrest while circulation and oxygenation are supported. ECMO is also used to support patients with the acute viral pneumonia associated with COVID-19 in cases where artificial ventilation alone is not sufficient to sustain blood oxygenation levels.