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What is COVID-19? What do we know about it so far?

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Coronavirus disease-2019 or COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Related Coronavirus-2. Chinese authorities on December 2019 reported the community spread of this virus from the Wuhan province of China.


A virus is a composition of genetic material wrapped within a layer of protein called capsid. It is not even a living cell, which can only multiply by entering a new living cell and thereby using its molecular machinery.


Mode of infection 


The Corona may extend across the surfaces, but it is unclear how long it can hold on to it. It is spread mainly through the droplet infection when people cough or if you touch someone who is sick and rub your face, nose or eyes after that. The virus begins its journey here and advances into the body. Their destinations are intestines, spleen or lung, where it can have more dramatic affect.



Symptom


Within 2 to 14 days after exposure to the novel coronavirus, the patient may show

first symptom. This is when it can appear as a common cold or flu. Symptoms can

be mild to moderate (80% of cases), severe (14%) and critical (6%).


Many patients develop fevers early on. According to the WHO-China Joint Mission, about 88% of people who had Covid-19 had a fever. But there have been some cases where gastrointestinal symptoms, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal discomfort have been reported a couple of days before respiratory symptoms. But since Covid-19 is a respiratory disease, in most cases it can start and end with the lungs.


Inflammation of the lungs leading to dry cough (67.7% of cases), shortening of breathing (18.6%), and the production of phlegm are the common symptoms. While in moderate to critical cases, the patient will develop pneumonia. In some severe to critical cases, although symptoms can lead to Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (accumulation of fluid in the lungs).


Other symptoms that may appear are fatigue, sore throat, headache, joints or muscle pain, chills and runny nose or even loss of odors.


Mechanism of infection


Mechanism of infection of Corona 

The lungs are lined with epithelial cells, which are the cells that line the body and the mucosa. The Corona connects to an angiotensin-converting enzyme-2 receptor on the cell membrane (process called receptor-mediated endocytosis) of the target cell and injects its genetic material. Then it invades the cellular machinery and creates more and more copies of RNA (since the corona is a retrovirus) and protein coat or capsid. It is then re-assembled within the host cell by using cellular machinery (the Golgi and the endoplasmic reticulum). The virus fills the cytosol until the cell receive the final order of apoptosis or cell death by self destruction. The cell membrane melts away releasing new viruses that are ready to infect new cells.


Damaged cells inside the lungs increase wastes that hinder the body's ability to keep the lungs and trachea clean. This causes inflammation that leads to more and more damage.


Inflammation triggers an avalanche of immune cells into the infected lung tissues. The immune cells that are sent to kill infections can actually go against the body if it is not properly regulated. Cells communicate through small signaling proteins called cytokines. As immune cells dump into the lung, the Corona can infect some of them. Corona makes infected immune cells to over-react and sends more signal for reinforcement.


In this case, two types of cells are activated: neutrophils and killer T cells. Neutrophils are the most important killing cells that pump enzymes that can provide lysis (death) of a cell. But infected immune cells can kill everything that comes in their way, including the healthy ones. While killer T cells are immune cells that signals infected cells for the auto-lysis process. As the cells are confused, they can signal healthy cells to commit suicide. Greater the immune response is, the maximum is the loss until the mass loss leads to the absence of any healthy tissue inside the lungs. This can also lead to life long disability to the tissues.


As the protective cover of the lung is damaged the alveoli are now can be subject to the attack of bacteria present inside the body which are otherwise harmless. Patients during this time, may develop pneumonia, breathing becomes difficult or even fails and patients require ventilation for life support. Then thousands of bacteria again multiply within the lungs and may re-enter the circulation and the patient may die.


Prevention


• Wash your hands often with soap or sanitizer.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth without cleaning your hands.

• Keep your mouth covered while coughing or sneezing.

• Increasing social distance to reduce community dissemination.

• Use masks and gloves while going outside or confine yourself indoors.

• Avoid any travel.

• Consult the doctors if you face any difficulty.

• Cooperate with the authorities concerned and try to follow them.


The conclusion


An epidemic like corona can spread rapidly or slowly. In a fast spreading pandemic, at the same time many people may get infected which hampers the health facilities. The healthcare system becomes unable to handle such a huge pressure. So, the system collapsed. While a slow-pandemic makes fewer people infected at the same time. Thus, taking advantage of health facilities to the maximum people. Most people can be treated and thus the death toll can be reduced. So how does a pandemic stops depends on how it starts and how do we answer at its initial stage.

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