It’s officially been a year since coronavirus entered our lives and unfortunately, it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere anytime soon.
Although the virus has become a part of our daily lives in one way or another, how much do we really understand about the virus and its terminology? Can you tell your antigen apart from your antibody?
With all the science based information that is presented to us on a daily basis, we thought we would share a terminology guide to explain a little more about the virus and all the meaning behind it.
Airborne: Airborne transmission is defined as the spread of an infectious agent caused by the dissemination (the action or fact of spreading something) of droplet nuclei (aerosols) that remain infectious when suspended in air over long distances and time.
Antibody test: Antibody tests are used to detect antibodies to the COVID-19 virus to see if it’s likely that you have had the virus before. The test works by taking a blood sample and testing for the presence of antibodies to see if you have developed an immune response to the virus.
Antigen test: Antigen tests are immunoassays that detect the presence of a specific viral antigen, which implies current viral infection. Most of the currently authorised antigen tests return results in approximately 15 minutes but are generally less sensitive than RT-PCR tests.
Asymptomatic: Asymptomatic means no symptoms. When someone has an infection, there is a period of time after they catch the germ before they have symptoms. This is called an incubation period. In some cases, people may catch the infection and never have any symptoms.
Herd immunity: Herd immunity, also known as ‘population immunity’, is the indirect protection from an infectious disease that happens when a population is immune either through vaccination or immunity developed through previous infection.
Incubation period: The incubation period is the number of days between when you’re infected with something and when you might see symptoms. Healthcare professionals and government officials use this number to decide how long people need to stay away from others during an outbreak.
Messenger RNA (mRNA): Messenger RNA (mRNA) is a single-stranded RNA molecule that is complementary to one of the DNA strands of a gene. The mRNA is an RNA version of the gene that leaves the cell nucleus and moves to the cytoplasm where proteins are made.
Pandemic: According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), a pandemic is defined as the worldwide spread of a new disease. When a disease first emerges, most of us lack the natural immunity to fight it. This can cause a sudden, sometimes rapid spread of the disease between people, across communities and around the world.
Transmission: Transmission is the process by which viruses spread between hosts. It includes spread to members of the same species or spread to different species in the case of viruses that can cross species barriers.
Whilst we all remain optimistic that coronavirus will become an insignificant part of our lives in the year to come, we hope this guide will help you perfect your COVID-19 vocabulary in the meantime.