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The Science Behind Coronavirus: How Does It Kill?

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ARDS
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As seen in a 3D model (below), Coronavirus affects the lungs the most. The model is based on computerized tomography scans. 

coronavirus effect to human
Source: economictimes.indiatimes.com

Physician Joshua Denson evaluated many COVID-19 patients with seizure. Denson is a reputed pulmonary and critical care physician at the Tulane University School of Medicine. Many had respiratory failures and a few of them happened to have their kidneys on a dangerous downhill. Many days ago, he and his team resuscitated a young woman whose heart had stopped. Every case had one thing in common, “Coronavirus Positive”’ 

Globally, this novel virus has affected more than 2 million people and has caused 1,50,000 deaths. Pathologists, researchers and clinicians are endeavoring to apprehend the damage that this virus brings in the body. Till now, it has been observed that it not only makes lungs non-operational, it also reaches out to many organs in our body, including kidneys, brain, heart and blood vessels. According to a cardiologist, Harlan Krumholz from Yale-New Haven Hospital, Yale University, the virus has all weapons to attack almost everything in the body with devastating results. Harlan is trying very hard to gather clinical data on COVID-19 to uncover some more hidden truths about this virus. Undertaking a systems approach could be beneficial as it might lead to some therapy against the virus. An understanding of Coronavirus Rampage could do nothing but help the doctors on the front lines to treat the fraction that is COVID-19 positive. However, appropriate answers to the following questions are highly needed amidst this downturn. 

  • What explains the low blood oxygen where some physicians discovered patients wheezing for breath? 
  • Does this newly observed virus have a tendency to transform some mild cases to life threatening ones?  

The virus is an immense fast-evolving virus that attacks cells around the body. The same was observed in 5% of the patients based out in the USA, who were critically ill. The virus acts like no microbe humanity hence, the clear picture on the same is elusive. Without significant studies, scientists can not pull information about the virus. However, small studies and case reports are being used by the scientists which are not even peer-reviewed. Nancy Reau, a liver transplant physician, has been treating Coronavirus patients and has guided that all of us need to keep a very open mind to fight the battle against this pandemic. 

How covid 19 can kill
Source: i.dailymail.co.uk

How the journey of this virus starts? 

When a coronavirus infected person sneezes out virus-laden droplets and someone else absorbs those droplets, the COVID-19 enters into the body through the throat and the nose. According to the scientist at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, the favourite home of this virus is the nose. Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) helps in regulating blood pressures. And the virus requires ACE2 to enter a cell. Once the virus hijacks all body-organs and machines, it blooms and makes many copies of itself. Thereby, invading new organs/cells. As the virus increases and multiplies in the body, an infected person possesses this virus’ cells in a very heavy amount. However, the symptoms may or may not be absent during the first week. And this virus keeps attacking new victims who develop symptoms such as fever, cold, cough, headaches, etc. gradually. 

If the immunity is weak, COVID-19 is a deadly virus

If the body has a weaker immune system during the initial phase, the virus will definitely attack the lungs, and by doing this, it can be a life-threatening disease. Although, the distant branches of the lungs’ respiratory tree end in small air sacs are called alveoli. These layers are also rich in ACE2 receptors nonetheless. Generally, oxygen crosses through the alveoli, and turns them into the capillaries. Capillaries are blood vessels that lie next to the air-sacs. And, then oxygen is then taken to the rest of the body.  Hence, if the immune system is weak, the body will not have the potential to war with this (COVID-19) invader. There will not be healthy oxygen transfer once this virus enters into the weaker body systems. 

Coronavirus
Source: cdn.siasat.com

A case of Pneumonia or ARDS

This virus is also the underlying pathology of pneumonia that has similar symptoms:- fever, coughing, shallow respiration etc. Some patients have recovered but sometimes support through nasal prongs is given to the patients to keep breathing. On the other hand, many patients developed ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome). In this condition, oxygen levels are hammered down and breathing becomes a challenging task. On computerized tomography scams(picture above), the lungs are battling with the white opacities that should have black space; air. Many of the times, such patients end up being on ventilators. Apparently, their autopsies exhibit the fact that their alveoli was stuffed with white blood cells, mucus which resulted in death. 

Hence, the virus has brought multiple battlefields. With one manifesting some other symptoms while the other showing something else, it’s really hard for the clinicologists to find out the cause of the death. Krumholz, Yale University, says that we really do not understand who is more devastating, why only some fraction of the people were affected so severely, why it is so difficult for some to even recover the virus and why many people are recovering from COVID-19. 

Source:

Sciencemag.org

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An avid researcher who aims to uncover all major political and business events through a wide lens. From understanding "breaking news" to reading impactful research papers, she always endeavors to contribute something new with her writing. She has presented her work at world-class platforms such as CCI (Competition Commission of India), IIT-D's Industry Day (organized by Indian Institute of Delhi), etc. Her serious demeanor changes in front of the Indian cuisine and she wishes to taste every possible cuisine in her life while she travels all exquisite corners of the world.