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Focus: GS-III Science and Technology, Prelims


A term coined by the World Health Organization (WHO) to denote the disease that has led to a pandemic.

CO stands for corona, VI for virus, and D for disease, while the numerals – 19 refer to the year in which the first case was detected.

WHO claimed it had consciously avoided naming the disease after the place of origin, to avoid stigmatising that country/area.


The International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) announced “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)” as the name of the new virus.


When the incidence of a disease rises above the expected level in a particular community or geographic area, it is called an epidemic.


When the epidemic spreads over several countries or continents, it is termed a pandemic.


R0 — R-Naught is the basic reproduction number. This is the number of new infections caused by one infected individual in an entirely susceptible population.

If R0 is 2, then one individual will infect two others. As of end May, India’s R0 value was in the range of 1.22.


Several health conditions including uncontrolled diabetes and hypertension, cancer, morbid obesity, lung diseases, compromised immune systems put patients at greater risk for contracting the infection, and also have poor clinical outcomes.


The method by which the disease spreads. In COVID-19 it is through respiratory droplets, expelled while talking, laughing, coughing and sneezing.

Community transmission

When you can no longer tell how someone contracted the disease, or who the source of infection was.

Contact Tracing

Identifying and monitoring people who may have come into contact with an infectious person.

Super spreader

Some individuals seem to have the capacity to cause more infections in a disproportionately large number of people, than others.

Positivity rate

The percentage of people who test positive among all those who are tested.

If positivity rate is high, it is possible that only high-risk groups are being tested.

A low positivity rate can also indicate that not enough testing is being done.

Infection fatality rate

It is the number of deaths occurring in all infected people in a particular population.

Case fatality rate

This is the number of deaths occurring among confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Severe Acute Respiratory Infection (SARI)

A respiratory disease also caused by a coronavirus, and spread through the same transmission method, i.e. respiratory droplets.

Cytokine storm

An immune reaction triggered by the body to fight an infection is known as a cytokine storm when it turns severe.

The body releases too many cytokines, proteins that are involved in immunomodulation, into the blood too quickly.

While normally they regulate immune responses, in this case they cause harm and can even cause death.

RT- PCR (Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction)

It is the primary test to detect COVID-19 infection- that uses swab samples drawn from the nasal/oral cavity to test for the presence of viral RNA (ribonucleic acid).

Antibody tests

These tests check your blood by looking for antibodies, and that just means you have had a past infection of SARS-CoV-2.

Antibodies are proteins that help fight off infections, and are specific to every disease, granting immunity against getting that particular disease again.

Convalescent plasma therapy

It is method of using neutralising antibodies from the blood of people who have recovered from the COVID-19 infection to treat patients with COVID-19.

Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ)

An antimalarial oral drug that is being repurposed for treatment in COVID-19.

It has also been used successfully in the treatment of some auto immune conditions

Flattening the curve

Reducing the number of new COVID-19 cases, day on day.

The idea of flattening the curve is to ensure that the health infrastructure is not overwhelmed by a large number of cases.

Herd immunity

This is also known as community immunity, and constitutes the reduction in risk of infection within a population, often because of previous exposure to the virus or vaccination.

PPE (Personal protective equipment)

PPE is specialised clothing and equipment used as a safeguard against health hazards including exposure to the disease.

-Source: The Hindu

February 2024