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An Overview Of The Sars Cov 2 Crisis - Or Where Are We Up To So Far?

Here an old friend of unionsafety and a retired Chemist by trade, gives his personal analysis and explains the science around one of the World's deadliest viruses, now known as Covid-19, how we got where we are and what the future may hold as we live with this newest world pandemic.

Having long retired but still known within the scientific community, he wishes to remain anonymous. Nevertheless, his words are no less valid for wishing to remain retired and, incognito, as it were:

Intro

So after 3.5 years of brexitology and the ins and outs of political mayhem and indecision it all culminated in mid dec 2019 with a general election and finally an exit in principle.

Hooray we thought,whether for or against the argument-surely there would be a lull now,we could all breathe again,or so it seemed-

While we were making merry at christmastide, no doubt chewing the fat along with the turkey over the events of the year,waiting for the new year and all of it’s resolutions in place-a brave new world awaited us.

So we ushered in 2020 we couldn’t have dreamed that such chaos and utter mayhem that would ensue a week or two later !

It is not unusual for our non-discriminating microscopic adversaries to pop up from time to time,and we are aware of the sars and mers pneumonia causing viruses and their damage-sadly the people of the far east and middle east suffered the consequences.

However, in the main these diseases in the form of outbreaks were contained to certain and localised regions.

Epidemic is the name we understand and we watch with trepidation as to how the indigenous populations coped with and eventually eliminated their problems. But pandemic by definition is something that we in the west never imagined.

During the course of these brief articles, as the title suggests, I will attempt an overview of life as we know it, (but not as we’d like it!)

The Virus

Viruses are no strangers to us, unfortunately, we live and sometime die in their shadow of such as influenza and a host of other sicknesses.

Modern history tells of the so called spanish ‘flu pandemic from around 1918-20 that killed around 5 million people worldwide after the cessation of ww1. Since then with the techniques of advanced epidemiology we have learnt to detect and combat organisms,with immunisation as the goal in disease prevention.

However, things were going to change - and soon!

Let’s give this thing a name - Sars Cov-2 , Covid-19 or Novel Coronavirus- no matter, in late 2019 this virus emanated from Wuhan in Central China, note the virus, and not the information or notification with it- the genome, or the key to the DNA would follow on much later!

The west got to know about it in late december 2019, but some commentators say the Chinese knew about it in the October or November- but allegedly kept things under wraps for whatever reason.

Now the scientists and various medical experts came along with their sundry reports, data and opinions- all very profound And informative.

I will say at this stage that I do not intend to trawl through the many reports and articles produced - there are many references and learned reports published covering everything from how the virus works, what it is, how we test for it and drug and vaccine hypothesis.

Everything (mostly) is online.


Click the pic to download in PDF format

So, in the new year we were told properly, but still the panic did not set in- in fact very little was done about it- the powers that be thinking it would all go away- well it didn’t- unlike south korea we didn’t test straightaway, or lockdown, or issue instructions- the planes still flew in an out of the british isles including the football supporters from madrid to liverpool while madrid was in lockdown and suffering the second greatest loss of life - even so thousands attended the cheltenham races! - The rest is history.

But it won’t get us - will it?

It seems that Covid 19 is a first cousin of Sars and Mers and a few others, it’s structure varies, they are all different in certain ways.

It is zoonotic i.e it occurs in animals and can transfer, usually in aerosol or droplet form/to humans - bats, pangolins, and Chinese wet livestock markets figure highly on the suspect list. It is also thought that a certain biolab in Wuhan collected, developed and perfected the virus, and by some complete ‘accident’ it escaped into the environment (this one is going to run and run!)

But it happened - so how do we deal with it?

To complete part one-a very brief biology lesson- it can be complicated but fascinating even if you’re not an ’ologist'!

Viruses or virion are globules of lipids or fats filled with protein manufacturing devices by way RMA and DNA waiting for a host cell to invade and to replicate themselves inside that cell.

A virus is not actually alive, it has no brain, no thoughts, no sense of right or wrong, just a set of chemicals looking for more chemicals to reproduce.

Very clever really, a blob of fat invisible to the naked eye coates in protein and equipped with protein spikes we’ll call ace 2 - it is protein seeking out more protein - it locks on to the layer of the host cell with the ace 2 and dissolves it’s way into the cell to start the replication process- producing multitudes of the virus to spread to the rest of the human body, particularly the lungs with varied results.

So this is the culprit - well more of a pretty diagram of it - from top to bottom:

A large spherical organism, liable to change in shape, with bulbous projections or spikes. The virus particles are approx 125 nm in diameter,the envelope is 85nm in diameter with spikes 20 mm in length and we move on to the method and structure.

S= spike glycoprotein-cov use it’s protein spike to the receptor lining on the host or human cell, it then uses an enzyme  or ace2 present on cell wall-the virus can then set about dissolving the cell wall and enter the cell in order to replicate itself and produce more virus.

E=envelope which causes changes and fusion near to the cell wall but within the cell itself

M=membrane protein maintains shape of  viral envelope

In between S E and M are hemagglutinin proteins marked he- they assist in attachment and dissolving processes on the lipid layer of the host.

Important to realise that S E and M form this viral envelope a lipid or 2- layered fatty layer- a typical Covid virus has approx 74 spikes. Inside the virus  is a nucleocapsid, explained as a capsid is the protein shell of a virus-enclosing genetic material i.e nucleic acid etc associated with rna and dna, so a nucleocapsid is a capsid of that virus and within the nucleic acid itself- simply all the material in assembly to enable replication or reproduction using a copying process of rna or dna when it enters the host cell.

Therefore we now have N on the diagram as the nucleocapsid, it then passes into the cell and the complicated business of replication starts.

And the process of replication and transcription continues within the cell, until the virus number is reached with subsequent transportation of of new virions to appropriate parts of the body via the bloodstream initially and particularly to affect the respiratory system, resulting in the covid 19 infection, where it may incubate itself for approx 3 to 14 days.

In part 2 - how do we test for it?- antibodies v antigens and the quest to find a drug, and a vaccine!

See part two: Overview Of The Sars Cov 2 Crisis Part Two - The Follow Up



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