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It’s Official: Understanding the Coronavirus Pandemic

Pretty much the only thing anyone is talking about in the news lately, besides the US elections, is the novel—brand new—coronavirus (maybe you’ve heard of its other name, COVID-19).

After almost four months of watching the virus spread, on March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus a pandemic. 

But, do you know what pandemic actually means?

It’s been 102 years since the last true pandemic (Spanish flu in 1918). This means that almost no one on this earth was alive during the last one. So, a lot of us might not really know what it means.

Why don't we start with the WHO’s definition...

A pandemic is when a new disease for which people do not have immunity spreads around the world beyond expectations.

To understand this definition a little better, let's break down the important parts.

Around the World

The first thing to notice is that it says nothing about the actual characteristics of a disease. It simply has to do with how far the disease has spread. To be a pandemic, it needs to spread across the world.

New Disease = No Immunity

The other part of this definition has to do with explaining why it happens. Lack of immunity.

Immunity relates to our body’s ability to fight off invaders (like infections). When a disease is brand new, our body doesn’t know how to fight it. If the invader enters our body, we have no defense. That’s what makes it so easy for everyone to get a new disease.

Over the next couple of weeks, we will continue to help you understand the coronavirus. We’ll go more in-depth on concepts like immunity and provide information on things that you can do.

Our goal is to keep it simple and be transparent, helping you understand all the other news around the coronavirus.

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2 Responses

Dr. Joe Explains

Dr. Joe Explains

March 24, 2020

Hi Vicki.

We know how frightening and confusing everything is around the coronavirus. That’s why our team is working hard to address some of these fears and provide more understanding in upcoming articles.

Vicki Burns

Vicki Burns

March 24, 2020

I am 68 yrs. old and frightened over this virus stuff. Please keep me informed about it. I know it is serious and want to stay as safe as I can
I am not ready to give up and die. I need some reassurance. Thanks .

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