The SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus
The virus that causes Covid-19 is presently spreading around the world. At least six different sorts of coronavirus are identified to contaminate people, with some inflicting the widespread chilly and two inflicting epidemics: SARS in 2002 and MERS in 2012.
Covered With Spikes
The coronavirus is known as after the crownlike spikes that protrude from its floor. The virus is enveloped in a bubble of oily lipid molecules, which falls aside on contact with cleaning soap.
Entering a Vulnerable Cell
The virus enters the physique by way of the nostril, mouth or eyes, then attaches to cells within the airways that produce a protein known as ACE2. The virus is believed to have originated in bats, the place it might have connected to an analogous protein.
Releasing Viral RNA
The virus infects the cell by fusing its oily membrane with the membrane of the cell. Once inside, the coronavirus releases a snippet of genetic materials known as RNA.
Hijacking the Cell
The virus’s genome is lower than 30,000 genetic “letters” lengthy. (Ours is over three billion.) The contaminated cell reads the RNA and begins making proteins that may hold the immune system at bay and assist assemble new copies of the virus.
Antibiotics kill micro organism and don’t work towards viruses. But researchers are testing antiviral medication which may disrupt viral proteins and cease the an infection.
Making Viral Proteins
As the an infection progresses, the equipment of the cell begins to churn out new spikes and different proteins that may type extra copies of the coronavirus.
Assembling New Copies
New copies of the virus are assembled and carried to the outer edges of the cell.
Spreading the Infection
Each contaminated cell can launch thousands and thousands of copies of the virus earlier than the cell lastly breaks down and dies. The viruses could infect close by cells, or find yourself in droplets that escape the lungs.
Most Covid-19 infections trigger a fever because the immune system fights to clear the virus. In extreme instances, the immune system can overreact and begin attacking lung cells. The lungs turn into obstructed with fluid and dying cells, making it tough to breathe. A small share of infections can result in acute respiratory misery syndrome, and presumably demise.
Leaving the Body
Coughing and sneezing can expel virus-laden droplets onto close by individuals and surfaces, the place the virus can stay infectious for a number of hours to a number of days. Infected individuals can avoid spreading the virus by carrying a masks, however wholesome individuals don’t have to put on a masks until they’re caring for a sick individual.
A Possible Vaccine
A future vaccine might assist the physique produce antibodies that focus on the SARS-CoV-2 virus and forestall it from infecting human cells. The flu vaccine works in an analogous manner, however antibodies generated from a flu vaccine don’t defend towards coronavirus.
The finest strategy to avoid getting infected with the coronavirus and different viruses is to clean your fingers with cleaning soap, keep away from touching your face, hold your distance from sick individuals and often clear steadily used surfaces.
Sources: Dr. Matthew B. Frieman and Dr. Stuart Weston, Univ. of Maryland School of Medicine; Fields Virology; Fenner and White’s Medical Virology; Nature; Science; The Lancet; New England Journal of Medicine; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.