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Revista bio ciencias

versión On-line ISSN 2007-3380

Revista bio ciencias vol.7  Tepic  2020  Epub 18-Nov-2020 


The COVID-19 pandemic: impact in Health and Economy

M. I. Girón-Pérez* 

K. S. Barrón-Arreola* 

A. E. Rojas-Mayorquín** 

*Universidad Autónoma de Nayarit. Cd de la Cultura S/N. C.P. 63000. Tepic Nayarit, México.

**Universidad de Guadalajara, Dpto. de Ciencias Ambientales-CUCBA. Zapopan, Jalisco. México.

Contrary to what most of the population believes, viruses are not living beings but particles (size in the order of tenths or hundredths of microns) composed of biomolecules (proteins, lipids, and carbohydrates) whose function is to transfer gene material (RNA or DNA) from one cell to another by entering into cells. Due to this insertion of new material, the receiving cell acquires new genotypic and phenotypic characteristics that are inherited to new generations of cells and therefore to organisms. That is, viruses, and bacteria as well, are not synonymous with disease; they are only a strategy that allows for the adaptation and evolution of living beings through these new characteristics. In addition, viruses do not exclusively enter animal cells but also associate or infect plants, bacteria, and fungi, contributing significantly to the diversity and biological evolution on the planet.

While some of the known viruses (it is estimated that we only know 10 % of the existing viruses) cause diseases such as measles, AIDS, hepatitis, and even some types of cancer, most viruses are not related to pathological processes. These pathological processes are often created by the defense mechanisms of the infected organism. In their quest to defend the host organism, these mechanisms trigger complex molecular, biological phenomena; for example: inflammation, fever, cough, and mucus. However, at other times, genes inserted into the host cells by viruses alter the cell physiology; a clear example of this are the human papillomavirus (HPV) and HIV, the etiologic agent of AIDS.

Particularly, the SARS-CoV-2 virus (etiologic agent of COVID-19) belongs to the family of coronaviruses, which is a group of RNA viruses that tend to induce respiratory tract conditions.

In the case of its origin, there is every indication that SARS-CoV-2 is the result of the mutation of a coronavirus that infected bats, wildlife animals, which, like viruses, perform very important ecological functions (pollination and insect control). Due to the close coexistence between humans and bats in certain cultures of the world, this coronavirus was able to infect humans, thus generating a new virus on the planet, with high capacity for transmission and infection among humans. According to this latest idea, we must change our anthropocentric vision and try to generate more ecocentric cultures.

The COVID-19 disease is not lethal to most people; still, it is highly contagious. That is, the virus is very easily transmitted among people and this makes it possible for many individuals to develop the disease at the same time. The transmission rate creates important differences between several viruses that can cause symptoms similar to those of COVID-19 (such as influenza or flu); the flu, for example, spreads faster than COVID-19 but is not as lethal.

There are currently many questions and uncertainty about statistical data, as calculating them is extremely complex. Also, each country has used different methods of quantification that trigger uncertainty and make direct comparisons vague. What has proven to be an unquestionable reality is that the rate of contagion on the one hand and media information on the other have caused a collapse in almost every health system in the world. This draws attention in terms of healthcare because we have just said that the disease is not inherently dangerous to the majority of the population, but our actions are. At the time of this publication, it is estimated that 4.6 % of the confirmed cases will have died, 21.3 % will have recovered, and 74.1 % will remain as active cases, of which the majority will recover. All recovered cases will have the immunity that so far no one had acquired. However, just knowing that the disease exists, visualizing its spreading speed in real time, pointing out the higher risk groups (and those that are not), informing the virus life span on surfaces (which is no different from that of other coronaviruses) and its variation depending on some environmental conditions have caused the population, including decision makers, to fall into extremes. They have both undervalued and overestimated the consequences and we now see the results: fear and uncertainty, among others. Almost all are unrelated to health but end up by affecting it.

The best remedy for all this is certainly first-hand information, consulting the sources that generate it. Daily updates published by WHO on the situation of the COVID-19 disease worldwide can be found on situation-reports/. Technical documents and ongoing research on COVID-19 in the Americas are also available at

Potential vaccines (there are more than 20 in the development stage) and different specific drug treatments are currently being investigated; there are ongoing clinical trials to test them, mainly in China and the United States.

Both vaccines and treatments would surely take time to reach our country, so basic hygiene measures are the most effective in preventing this disease (like several others). There is plenty information on hand washing, but less is known about the proper use of surgical respirators or surgical masks (face masks). WHO has also published who must wear masks and how and when to remove and dispose of a mask in a few steps: All links can be consulted in several languages.

As with almost all pathologies today, both the virus and the disease it causes are under constant investigation since they were described. According to research on this issue, clinical characteristics (fever, dry cough, and tiredness are the most relevant; dyspnea is added in severe cases) as well as laboratory and cabinet diagnosis tests of patients who have had signs and symptoms have been described. On the other hand, the vertical transmission (mother-to-baby before delivery, during childbirth, or later through breastfeeding) of SARS-CoV-2 has not been demonstrated. Therefore, C-sections should not be indicated due to this condition nor should breastfeeding be contraindicated, but care must be taken to prevent post-birth contagion as would happen to any other individual. In fact, antibodies (immunoglobulins) against the virus have actually been found in newborns of mothers suffering from COVID-19.

What we consider most important is to consult and disseminate real, clear, and non- alarmist information because, at the end of the day, this will also pass, and the historical footprint of this episode depends on what we do now. That experience of knowledge (medical, scientific, and biological as well as sociocultural) would be desirable, and not one of chaos as it seems to be the case. This affects not only our health but also our economy.

The United Nations estimate that the economic impact that the COVID-19 pandemic will leave in its wake will be between $1 and 2 trillion USD globally as it is also associated with the falling global oil price and the uncertainty with which financial markets have reacted. In fact, the International Monetary Fund has established that the world economy has entered a deeper recession than that of the 2008 financial crisis, derived from the economic activities grinding to a halt, which has led more than 80 nations to seek financial support from this agency.

Social isolation has been used in most countries as a strategy to control the expansion of the pandemic, which has resulted in disruptions in the production of companies, regardless of size and sector, a decline in demand and therefore in production. In the labor market, it has meant sending the luckiest to their home to do telework. In economies like those of Latin America, and particularly Mexico, it is even more complicated because these countries have a productive base of SMEs (99 %) where 56.7 % of the staff are occupied in the informal sector and contribute with 22 % of the GDP, creating conditions of inequality and vulnerability for a large sector of the population.

As goods and services are no longer demanded, companies will tend to lay off their employees and the income of employees and the self-employed will begin to be reduced. The data reported to this day indicate that these events as well as cancellations and holiday rescheduling are already taking place in Mexico’s tourism sector, which has resulted in layoffs. In Quintana Roo, 40 % of the employees in the sector are expected to be laid off.

It is an external crisis; the effects and recovery times depend on the conditions of the economies. As citizens, we can help maintain consumption in local businesses since, it is estimated that the sectors most affected by COVID-19 will be grocery trade, food and beverage preparation, beauty salons and clinics, stationery, hotels and other lodging services, and transport, among others, that until the 2018 Economic Census occupied 26.5 million people. Today more than ever, we must “buy local”, although for this purpose companies have to implement changes associated with social distancing, as home delivery.


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Cite this paper: Girón-Pérez, M.I., Barrón-Arreola, K.S., RojasMayorquín, A.E. (2020). The COVID-19 pandemic: impact in Health and Economy. Revista Bio Ciencias, 7, e963. doi:

Received: March 26, 2020; Accepted: March 31, 2020

Corresponding Author: In this manuscript, the three authors participated in the same degree. e-mails:,,

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