THE SCIENCE BEHIND THE CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19 OR SARS-CoV-2)

By: Syed Arif Hussain (Silver Medalist) PhD Scholar(KIU Gilgit)

This virus is an RNA virus which means the genetic material inside this virus is little curly RNA which has the ability to replicate or reproduce only inside the living host. It means outside living organism or cell it is just a nonliving entity which can’t move, grow and replicate independently called virion but is capable of infecting a suitable organism if one comes into its contact. The name coronavirus is attributed to this virus because of its crown like structure due to the spikes on its surface. This virus caused a disease in china in 2019 that’s why it was initially given the name COVID-19. Now WHO has given its official name SARS-CoV-2 because this is considered the second generation daughter virus and is taking the full advantage of being novel and is not contained or controlled by any vaccine so far. It is thousand times more infective than SARS because SARS was endemic and limited in its scale and scope but COVID-19 or SARS-CoV-2 is important to us because it has given scientists a head start to fully understand the family of coronaviruses. Now this is an opportunity for scientists to have different lens to check or observe host affect rather than virus itself, because we do not have any medical treatment to kill this virus up to now. If we look at the host affect, we truly have a shot to block it by washing hands according to WHO guidelines. So the most important fact is, our hands are the main vectors .Hence we can use this fact to our advantage and shed or remove this virus from our hands by hand sanitization using the power of soup or any sanitizer. We must know the difference b/w virus and bacteria. Many people are using antibacterial soaps to kill this virus. This attempt is useless rather any kind of soap, sanitizer or other detergent (dish washing fluids, shampoos etc ) is enough to kill this virus from our hands due to its week nature and composition. This virus damages our lungs once it makes its entry into the lungs. This virus hijacks receptors named ACE2 on lungs. These receptors are also present in blood vessels, kidney, heart and most importantly on the alveolar cells of lungs. These receptors are very important as they protect our lung tissues from injury. This virus figures out its way to interact with receptor and use ACE2 receptors to dock or making its attachment. After its adherence on the receptor, SARS-COV2 takes the advantage of cell itself and also uses cell as its factory. The virus later enter inside the cell and breaks itself and remarkably takes the Golgi apparatus (machinery of human cell) to reproduce or replicate itself and also does its own repackaging. Doing so this virus propagates and increases its number. After making thousands of copies it causes our cell to burst or lyses and contaminates other cells and this process goes on. This is how the positively charged patients contaminate others when sneezing, coughing and shaking hands with people around him. When the lungs are infected this results in fibroses and resultantly lungs tissues become injured. Due to this we run out of oxygen resultantly less oxygen is supplied to other organs as well. In this way multiple organ failure occurs and we end up with COVID-19 or SARS-COV-2. If we look at the risk of coronavirus to those with preexisting conditions, the percentage with other serious ailments who dies are cardiovascular disease 10.5%, diabetes 7.3%, chronic respiratory disease 6.3%, abnormally high blood pressure 6%, cancer 5.6% and no underlying health condition or having no previous disease have a minimum chance of 0.9%. It is important for all of us to know the ability of this virus to spread and how it does so. Virus has spreading factor of about 2.6 and what does this mean. The New York times has made a video that beautifully explains real contagious capability of this virus. Lets imagine there are five people who are sick and, one cycle means it is in five people and if there is infection rate of 2.6, in mathematics it is called exponential. What would happen in second cycle, means in two cycles 18 persons will be sick, in third cycle 52 people will be sick, in forth cycle 140 people will be sick and after five cycle over 368 people will be sick. Hence the purpose of isolating the infected people is to flatten the curve or to control the exponential growth. If we can identify the patients who are ill we can actually with protective measures or with isolation can flattened the curve and the importance of flattening curve means that we can protect the healthcare systems capacity so that we can have sufficient ICUS, sufficient medical personal and sufficient medical supplies to deal with the inevitable. Here inevitable means sever and critical patients who may die from this disease. So it is beholden to all of us to identify those patients or friends or family members who may have the symptoms of this disease. The majority of the cases are mild 80.9% while 15% are severe and critical i.e severe 13.8% and critical 4.7%. The critical patients are required intensive care and severe are needed hospitalization while mild can isolate themselves at home. If we generate this peak of 18 % with severely and critically ill patients than, there is no way that our country or system has the capacity to manage this tsunami. The purpose of this article is not to create fear but also to provide information that we as a nation can actually control. I am happy to share that through the lockdown, social distancing and with science of soap and sanitizer, we can prevent and control its infection. This virus intact with our body especially with our hands with its fatty greasy layer as its envelop. The detergents like soaps, sanitizer has the ability to crack this envelope and prevent this virus from infection. This is the science and power of soap and sanitizers.

arif.bio@kiu.edu.pk

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