Visualizing What COVID-19 Does to Your Body
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By now, researchers and health experts have gained a better understanding of the range of symptoms caused by COVID-19, which include fever, a dry cough, and of course, the dangerous inflammation of the respiratory system. Most of us know that COVID-19 can be much more severe than a typical flu, but lesser known are the mechanics behind how the virus causes pneumonia in its victims.
Today’s informative illustration, by scientific designer and animator Avesta Rastan, details the effects COVID-19 has on our lungs, from moderate to severe cases.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), most people who contract COVID-19 only experience mild flu-like symptoms. Occasionally though, the infection can cascade into a severe case of pneumonia that can be lethal, especially for older people and those with underlying medical conditions.
Here’s what COVID-19 does to your body.
The virus, officially named SARS-CoV-2, enters the body – generally through the mouth or nose. From there, the virus makes its way down into the air sacs inside your lungs, known as alveoli.
Once in the alveoli, the virus uses its distinctive spike proteins to “hijack” cells. The primary genetic programming of any virus is to make copies of itself, and COVID-19 is no exception. Once the virus’ RNA has entered a cell, new copies are made and the cell is killed in the process, releasing new viruses to infect neighboring cells in the alveolus.
This process can occur initially without a person being aware of the infection, which is one of the reasons COVID-19 has been able to spread so effectively.
The process of hijacking cells to reproduce causes inflammation in the lungs, which triggers an immune response. As this process unfolds, fluid begins to accumulate in the alveoli, causing a dry cough and making breathing difficult.
For 80-85% of people infected by COVID-19, these symptoms will run their course much as they would with a case of the flu.
In 15-20% cases, the immune system’s response to inflammation in the lungs can cause what’s known as a “cytokine storm”. This runaway response can cause more damage to the body’s own cells than to the virus it’s trying to defeat, and is thought to be the main reason for why the conditions of young, otherwise healthy individuals can rapidly deteriorate.
If enough alveoli collapse, a patient to be placed on a ventilator for breathing assistance. Both acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and high-altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) are being investigated as causes.
At this stage, the surfactant that helps keep alveoli from collapsing has been diluted, and fluid containing cellular debris is impairing the gas exchange process that supplies oxygen to our bloodstream.
In the most severe cases, systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) occurs as the protein-rich fluid from the lungs enters the bloodstream, resulting in septic shock and multi-organ failure. This is often the cause of death for people who have succumbed to a COVID-19 infection.
The Best Protection
Thankfully, COVID-19 isn’t a death sentence for most people who become infected, but the symptoms described above are not pleasant. Until a vaccine is developed, the best defense is avoiding infection altogether through frequent, thorough hand washing, and physical distancing as recommended by health authorities.
To see the full set of graphics, as well as other health and science related illustrations, visit Avesta Rastan’s website.
Visualizing How the Pandemic is Impacting American Wallets
57% of U.S. consumers’ incomes have taken a hit during the pandemic. How do such financial anxieties affect the ability to pay bills on time?
A Snapshot of U.S. Personal Finances During the Pandemic
If you’ve felt that you’ve needed to penny-pinch more during the pandemic, you’re not alone.
In the past seven months, 42% of U.S. consumers have missed paying one or more bills, while over a third (39%) believe they will need to skip payments in the future.
This visualization breaks down the state of U.S. consumers’ personal finances during the COVID-19 era, and projects into future concerns around savings.
Pandemic Personal Finances: Key Takeaways
Based on data from the doxoINSIGHTS Bills Pay Impact Report across 1,568 sampled households, three themes emerge:
- 57% of consumers’ incomes have taken a hit in the past seven months
- 70% have delayed discretionary spending on big purchases
- 75% continue to be very worried about their future financial health
How do these anxieties translate into day-to-day consequences?
Pandemic Postpones Bill Payments
Unsurprisingly, worrying about personal finances also means that more Americans are deferring their bill payments during the pandemic. However, these vary depending on the type of bill, total amount, and immediate urgency.
Over a quarter (27%) of U.S. consumers report having missed a bill on their auto loans, followed by 26% for utilities and 25% on cable or internet costs.
The average cost of the above three bill types is $258—but that’s still a fraction of the two most expensive bills, mortgage or rent, which come in at $1,268 and $1,023 respectively.
|Bill Type||$ Value||% Missed|
While 20% of Americans say they’ve missed a rent payment over the past few months, what’s even more alarming is that 28% of U.S. consumers believe they will most likely skip paying rent in the future.
|Bill Type||% Likely to Skip in Future|
Another clear trend is that many Americans are prioritizing insurance payments, particularly health insurance. This is good news during a global pandemic—only 10% have missed paying this bill type, although 15% expect to skip it in the coming months.
According to the report, some U.S. consumers seem to prioritize the bill types which come with strings attached, from late-payment penalties to accrued interest.
While missing a single payment might seem harmless, a pattern of missed payments over time have the potential to negatively impact your credit score.
Enough Savings To Stay Afloat?
Finally, Americans are wary about how much they have stashed away in the bank to weather the tumultuous months ahead.
While unemployment figures are recovering from historic troughs, the fear of losing one’s job remains prevalent. How many months’ worth of savings do U.S. consumers think they have if this were to happen?
|# Months||% Responses|
|7+ months 💰💰💰💰💰💰💰||23%|
|4-6 months 💰💰💰💰💰💰||15%|
|1-3 months 💰💰💰||27%|
|<1 month 💰||35%|
No one knows how long the COVID-19 chaos will last. In order to adapt to this economic uncertainty, consumer priorities are shifting along with their tightened budgets.
Measuring the Emotional Impact of COVID-19 on the U.S. Population
This graphic visualizes the impact of COVID-19 on emotional distress levels by different demographic subgroups such as race, education, or sex.
The Emotional Impact of COVID-19 on the U.S. Population
The COVID-19 pandemic has ripped through almost every country on the planet, causing devastating decay to the mental health of millions of people.
While most of us are experiencing higher levels of emotional distress than normal, the severity of stress may change based on factors such as age, race, education level, or even where you live.
This graphic uses data from the National Pandemic Emotional Impact Report to illustrate how each demographic subgroup in the U.S. is feeling.
The emotional upheaval of such a unique event impacts people in different ways, and is difficult to measure given the many direct and indirect factors associated with it.
For the report referenced in the graphic, researchers created a detailed methodology to measure the impact of COVID-19 across a sample of 1,500 adults. Surveys were conducted in May 2020, when the majority of people were under strict lockdown orders. Unemployment levels mirrored those seen only during the Great Depression, and of course, the death rate was rising quicker than anyone could have anticipated.
A Pandemic Distress Index Score (PDIS) was calculated based on participant’s responses, which were then divided into low (bottom 25%), moderate, and high (top 25%) quartiles of pandemic distress.
Emotional Distress Levels, by Demographic Group
Findings uncovered that almost 40% of participants have lost their jobs, or experienced a reduction in income due to the COVID-19 outbreak. However, the reverberations of such stressors vary by demographic subgroup.
According to the report, pandemic-related emotional distress decreases by age group. People in the 18-34 year bracket reported the most pandemic-related distress overall—with respondents citing high stress at nearly double the rate of people over 50 years old. Meanwhile, respondents in the 65+ age group had reported the lowest distress scores of all.
Of all ethnicities in the survey, Hispanics/Latinos and Blacks had the highest average Pandemic Distress Index Scores, and Whites had the lowest average scores.
It is also worth noting that the research concluded five days after the death of George Floyd, so the majority of responses may not include the influence of this event, and the subsequent movement against systematic racism.
In other subgroups, there were slight differences worth mentioning. For example, from a communities perspective, people who live in rural areas were less likely to experience high pandemic distress compared to people living in towns or cities.
When it comes to the battle of the sexes, men and women experience similar levels of distress. Moreover, the level of emotional distress related to COVID-19 did not differ much between people with children under 18 and those with older children. However, women with children under 18 reported more symptoms of anxiety compared to women with no minor children.
What Does the Data Mean?
While the research presents several important insights, understanding what it means is crucial in providing people with the support they need.
For example, participants with high pandemic-related distress are 40 times more likely to have clinically significant levels of anxiety and 20 times more likely to have clinically significant symptoms of depression, compared to those on the lower end of the spectrum.
In fact, a report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention shows that 1 in 4 people in the 18-24 age bracket have seriously considered committing suicide at some point during the month of June 2020, which is in line with the emotional distress scores for this age group.
While nobody can escape the devastating impacts of COVID-19 on mental health, it is clear that some people are more at risk than others.
Unfortunately, younger adults and people of racial and ethnic minorities have carried higher psychological burdens from the pandemic so far, and we have yet to see the long-term effects that could transpire as a result.
“Even when the pandemic is brought under control, grief, anxiety and depression will continue to affect people and communities.”
—António Guterres, United Nations
Although at times the pandemic may feel inescapable, we must continue to prioritize both our physical and mental health—so we can build immunity for what’s to come.
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