As humans, we face new diseases and viruses every year. Some of these diseases are not very serious and they affect a few people with successful treatment while some of these diseases are very serious i.e. COVID 19 virus and not only that they spread rapidly but because of a new structure within the virus membrane, research is still going on to understand this virus fully in order to create it’s vaccine. COVID 19 originated in China almost 4 months ago and within that short period of time, it has spread to more than 150 countries around the world affecting around 3 million people and causing deaths more than 150,000.
Characteristics of COVID 19:
- Coronavirus is actually not a virus but the name of a family of viruses
- MERS, SARS and COVID 19 are typical viruses of this coronavirus family
- Common flu and cold is also caused by a coronavirus family member but our immune systems have created antibodies so we don’t get seriously affected by common flu
- COVID 19 virus is not manmade but it came from bats and before it affected humans, it changed the structure accordingly
- Size of coronavirus is bigger than other viruses which means it can’t stay airborne but as soon it enter the atmosphere, it fells immediately.
- This virus can survive or stay alive from a few hours to 2 weeks depending on the type of the surface
- If it comes in contact with human skin, it can survive for 4-6 hours. Luckily washing hands frequently can prevent this virus to enter human body
- When a human is attacked by COVID 19, symptoms include fever, sore throat, cough, abdomen ache and difficulty in breathing
- There is no known cure for this virus and we can only try to boost our immune system and stay isolated for at least 14 days to beat this virus
- The people that are cured show that their bodies took around 14 days to create antibodies to fight the virus and now they are almost immune to this virus
Structure of COVID 19:
Initially there were some allegations from US government that COVID 19 virus is manmade and it was created in a Chinese bio lab and then spread to the entire world intentionally but later studies and researches proved that this is in fact a natural virus that is found commonly in bats. On the surface of the virus, there are crown like spikes that help the virus to enter a living cell but the structure of these spikes is different in humans. When analyzed under microscope, it shows that the spike structure of a COVID 19 virus found in bats is completely different and in its original form, it can’t affect humans because the spike structure doesn’t have the shape to latch on to the human cells but the virus extracted from a human shows a different spike structure, a structure that makes it ideal to stick to a human cell.
This initially fueled the idea that this virus is in fact manmade but later researches proved that this virus didn’t directly transfer from bats to humans but it affected another living organism first where it changed the structure of its spikes making it ideal to affect humans. This middle organism is yet to be identified but it can be anything thing from a cat to a dog to a frog to a camel or even a cow or chicken. There are hundreds and thousands of species living on the planet earth and people in different countries have different preferences of eating meat i.e. in Middle East only Halal meat is eaten while in USA and UK, Pork is a must have part of daily diet. This is why it’s not possible to immediately find the middle species that helped the COVID 19 virus to evolve its spike structure and modify itself to affect human cells.
There are five proteins in the structure of a coronavirus including; spike protein, membrane protein, envelope glycoprotein, hemagglutinin esterase protein and nucleocapsid protein. Spike or S glycoprotein is found on the outer surface of the virus and this protein gives the common shape to the virus. When this virus attaches to host’s cell, this S protein structure is what helps it latch to the human or living cell. Then comes the membrane or M glycoprotein that are also found on the outside surface of the virus and this protein helps replicate the virus as soon it finds a host cell and attaches to it. N proteins are found inside of the virus in form of flexible RNA and these proteins help the virus to replicate and latch on to the human cells.