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