In December End 2019 Chinese authorities notified the world that a virus was spreading from a Wuhan wet market. In the couple of months, it spreads to other countries, cases are doubling within days. The Virus is a Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome-Related. Coronavirus that causes the disease called Covid-19 and that everyone simply calls coronavirus.
What happens when it infects a human and what should one do?
A virus is really just a hull around genetic material and a few proteins, arguably not even a living thing. It can make more of itself by
entering in a human body. Corona may spread via surfaces, but it still uncertain how long it can survive on them. Its main way of spreading seems to be droplet infection when people cough, or if you touch someone who ill and then your face, say rubbing your eyes or nose.
The virus starts its journey here, and then hitches a ride as a stowaway deeper into the body. Its destinations are the intestines, the spleen or the lungs, where it can have the most dramatic effect.
Just a few corona viruses can cause quite a worse situation. The lungs are lined with billions of epithelial cells. These are the border cells of your body, lining your organs and mucosa waiting to be infected. Corona connects to a specific receptor on its victim membranes to
inject its genetic material. The cell, ignorant of what happening, executes the new instructions, which are pretty simple: copy and
reassemble. It fills up with more and more copies of the original virus until it reaches a critical point and receives one final order, self-destruct. The cell sort of melts away, releasing new corona particles ready to attack more cells. The number of infected cells grows exponentially After about 10 days, millions of body cells are infected,and billions of viruses swarmed the lungs.
The virus has caused too much damage yet, Coronavirus is now going to release a real beast on you, on your own immune system.
The immune system, while there to protect you, can actually be pretty dangerous to yourself and needs tight regulation.And as immune
cells pour into the lungs to fight the virus, Corona infects some of them and creates confusion. Cells have either ears or eyes. They communicate mostly via tiny information proteins called cytokines. Every immune reaction is controlled by them. Corona cause infected
immune cells to over react and yell bloody murder. In a sense, it puts the immune system into a fighting frenzy and sends way more
soldiers than it should, wasting its resources and causing damage.
Two kinds of cells in particular wreak havoc. Neutrophils, which are great at killing stuff, including our cells. As they arrive in, they start pumping out enzymes that destroy as many friends as enemies. The other important type of cells that go into a frenzy are killer T-cells, which usually order infected cells to commit controlled suicide.Confused as they are, they start ordering healthy cells to kill themselves too.
The more immune cells arrive, the more damage they do, and the more and more healthy lung tissue they kill. This might get so bad that
It can cause permanent irreversible damage, that leads to lifelong disabilities. In most cases, the immune system slowly regains control. It kills the infected cells, intercepts the viruses trying to infect new ones and cleans up the battlefield. Recovery begins. Most of people infected by Corona will get through it with relatively mild symptoms. But many
cases become severe or even critical.We dont know the percentage because not all cases have been identified, but it safe to say that
there is a lot more than with the flu. In severe cases, the lungs protective lining is gone. That means that the alveoli - tiny air sacs via which breathing occurs - can be infected by bacteria that arent usually a big problem. Patients get pneumonia. Respiration becomes hard or even fails, and patients need ventilators to survive.
The immune system has fought at full capacity for weeks and made millions of antiviral weapons. And as thousands of bacteria rapidly multiply, it is overwhelmed. They enter the blood and overrun the body, if this happens, death is very likely. The Corona virus is often
compared to the flu, but actually, it much more dangerous. The exact death rate is hard to down during an ongoing pandemic, we know
for sure that it much more contagious and spreads faster than the flu.
There are two ways for a pandemic like Corona: fast and slow.Which way we will see depends on how we all react to it in the early days
of the outbreak. A fast pandemic will be more dangerous and cost many lives, a slow pandemic will not be remembered by the history books. The worst case scenario for a fast pandemic begins. Why is this so bad? In a fast pandemic, many people get sick at the same time. If the numbers get too large, health care systems become unable to handle it. There arent enough resources, like medical staff or equipment like ventilators, left to help everybody. People will die untreated. And as more health care workers get sick themselves, the capacity of health care systems falls even further.If this becomes the case, then horrible decisions will have to be made about who gets to live and who doesnt. The number of deaths rises significantly in such a scenario. To avoid this, the world - that means all of us - needs to do what it can to turn this into a slow pandemic.A pandemic is slowed down by the right responses. Especially in the early phase, so that everyone who gets sick can get treatment and there no crunch point with overwhelmed hospitals. Since we dont have a vaccine for Corona,
We have to socially engineer our behaviour, to act like a social vaccine. This simply means two things:
1. Not getting infected
2. Not infecting others
Although it sounds trivial, the very best thing you can do is to wash your hands.The soap is actually a powerful tool. The corona virus is
encased in what is basically a layer of fat, soap breaks that fat apart and leaves it unable to infect you. It also makes your hands slippery,
and with the mechanical motions of washing, viruses are ripped away. Do it properly, wash your hands. Social distancing is the next thing , which is not nice experience, but nice thing to do. This means:
If you can stay at home, stay at home to protect those who need to be out for society to function:from doctors to cashiers, or police officers.
You depend on all of them. they all depend on you to not get sick.On a larger level, there are quarantines, which can mean different things, from travel restrictions or actual orders to stay at home. Quarantine is not great experience and not popular. But they buy us - and
specially the researchers working on medication and vaccinations - crucial time So if you are put under quarantine, you should understand why, and respect it. None of this is fun. But looking at the big picture,
It is a small price to pay.
Question of how pandemic end, depends on how it starts, if they start fast with a steep slope, they end badly. If they start slow, with a not-so-steep slope, they end okayish. In this day and age, it is really in all of our hands. Literally, and figuratively. A huge thanks to the experts who helped us.