Corona virus is derived from the Latin word “corona” meaning crown. It is the largest RNA virus of the family Coronaviridae and Order Nidovirals. It contains single stranded RNA genome with 20nm long spikes. This virus causes respiratory tract infection. Additionally, the mild varieties causes common cold while the lethal ones can cause deadlier diseases, one of which is the COVID -19.
The virus is spherical in shape and a specific protein called spike protein is embedded in the lipid bilayer that envelopes the viral genome. Inside the envelope, Nucleocapsid is present which attaches to the single stranded RNA. The virus behaves as non-living when it is outside the host cell. Lipid bilayer envelope, membrane protein and nucleocapsid acts as a protective covering to the virus.
- How Corona virus enters the host cells?
The viral spike protein acts as a hook that binds to the receptor host cell. After the attachment, protease enzyme cleaves the cell and hence the virus finally enters by endocytosis or fusion with the host membrane. After the entry, the virus loses its outer layer and the single stranded RNA attaches to the ribosomes of the host cell for translation.
How coronavirus infects human cells?
The virus mostly targets lungs, heart, kidney and intestine cells as a host cell. Two types of lung cells are chosen as target cells; Goblet cells that provides mucous coating to the respiratory tract and Ciliated cells that filters out the pathogens. As ciliated cells destroys the virus clogged in the lungs, the patient starts experiencing the initial symptoms of fever, cough, breathing difficulties and pneumonia.
Immune cells recognises the pathogen and acts on the mission to destroy them. Sometimes, Immune cells overreact and hurts healthy tissues as well. More cells die and thus, further clogging of the lungs happen which worsens the condition. When damage to lungs soars respiratory failure or death of the patient may occur. The Alveoli inside the lungs(site for oxygen uptake and carbon dioxide removal) also gets infected at higher stages. This impacts the normal breathing and patient experiences difficulty in breathing finally.
Furthermore, the RNA takes the control of ER ( Endoplasmic Reticulum) to replicate itself and manufacture proteins to multiply. Golgi bodies then package the protein in shell and thus, new viruses are formed.
Transmission of the Virus
When an infected person sneezes, he/she releases respiratory droplets of size more than 5-10 micrometre. These droplets when inhaled by a healthy individual increases the risk of getting the infection. Hence, transmission can occur by direct means particularly.
The indirect means of infection are coming into contact with a surface that was touched by the infected person. The virus transmits to the surface first and stays there for hours. When a healthy person touches the same surface and later, touches his eyes or nose with the same hand gets susceptible to the infection.
Symptoms of the infection
- Initially, the patient experiences common cold, headache, pneumonia, tiredness and fever.
- As the condition deteriorates further, the patient experiences severe pneumonia, difficulty in
- breathing and chest pain.
- The less common symptoms of corona are rash across the body, diarrhoea, pain, loss of taste
- and loss of sense of smell.
People of all age groups are at risk of infection but Older people and patients of asthma, diabetes
and heart disease are more susceptible to get the disease.
Diagnosis of the coronavirus infection
People who experience the initial symptoms of corona particularly are advised to visit their Doctors as soon as possible. They can clarify their doubts with them via calls too. The doctors asks a few questions before, like if they were present in any corona affected locality or if they got in
touch with any corona patient or are they patients of any of the diseases like asthma, diabetes or if they visited any foreign country recently.
Apart from that, many diagnostic tools are used:
- Fast Sense Diagnostic, a Pune-based start up has developed rapid diagnostic kits for screening of Covid-19.
- A modified Polymerase Chain reaction (PCR) based kit that analyses the results and reports in less than a few minutes.
These two models can be put into use especially at airport, hospitals and densely populated areas to do screening rapidly.
As of now, there is no medication or cure for this disease particularly. Researchers are on constant work to discover vaccines and medications for this viral infection.
U.S Food and Drug Administration has approved some medications that are already available in the market for other diseases to be used to cure COVID-19.
The medications approved are:
• Malaria Drugs- hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine
• Antiviral Drugs- Remdesivir
Moreover, to relieve the symptoms doctors also recommend-
• Cough syrups
• Fluid intake with proper rest
• Pain relievers (ibuprofen or acetaminophen)
Preventive Measures from COVID-19
• Clean your hands with soap and water at least for 20 seconds.
• Maintain distance from anyone who is suffering from common cold.
• After being in contact with any surface ( door, containers, slab etc.) , do not touch your eyes nose and mouth.
• Always keep a handkerchief to cover your mouth while you sneeze or cough.
• Wear a mask before going outside your house.
• Whenever you experience common symptoms of this disease contact your doctor without any delay.
• Stay home if you feel unwell.
• Avoid unnecessary travelling.
• Prefer working from home.
Is there any good effects of COVID 19?
Due to the faster rate at which the infection is spreading across the world, our country went under lockdown since March 2020. Clearly this resulted in a huge financial loss to big companies as well as industries and many people ended up becoming unemployed. The crippled economy has targeted poor people and has made their life more difficult than ever.
Amidst this situation around the globe, Mother nature has started healing its old wounds caused by humans since centuries. All industries and factories has been shut and people are avoiding unnecessary travelling. As a result, the emissions of green house gases have been reduced. Importantly there is also decrease in average Air Quality Index of Delhi. Bangalore, Kolkata and Lucknow. Thus, the level of air pollution has been greatly reduced.As all kinds of public gatherings has been prohibited, no parties or events are being held. All the big malls and restaurants have closed. All these circumstances have led to the reduction of noise pollution, air pollution and water pollution.
• This situation is also helping us to learn good hygiene
We are constantly told to wash hands for at least 20 seconds, cover our mouth while sneezing as well as cleaning and sanitizing containers and surfaces properly, maintaining at least 1 feet distance in public areas etc. These all etiquettes if become our practice will protect us from any kind of infections in future.
• Corona word has been derived from Latin work which means crown. The spikes protein all across it’s surface gives structure of crown under the microscope.
• Coronavirus contains single-stranded RNA.
• Spikes protein acts as hook that binds to the AC receptor of human cells.
• The virus when attacks the lungs, the patients may experience common symptoms like sneezing, headache, fever etc. As the infection reaches alveoli, the patients feel difficulty in breathing.
• In the case if this infection, the immune cells overreact and hurts self cells as well.
• Older people and patients with diabetes, asthma and heart diseases are at higher risk .
• Fast sense Diagnostic has developed diagnostic kits for rapid screening of this disease.
• U.S food and Drug administration have approved antiviral drugs like Remdesivir and malarial drugs like chloroquine for treatment.
• Apart from that, the patients are advised to increase fluid intake and take proper rest.
• Pain relievers like ibuprofen and acetaminophen are also given to the patients to relieve their symptoms.