Fundamentals of viral infections and COVID 19

By December 29, 2020 No Comments
viral infections and COVID 19

What is a virus?

A virus is a small, infectious particle that reproduces by infecting a host cell. The virus takes control of the host cell and releases its DNA or RNA inside the cell. Viruses can’t be reproduced without a host cell, but have some important features in common with cell-based life. They have nucleic acid genomes based on the same genetic code that’s used in our cells. So, even though viruses aren’t technically living, they have genetic variations and can evolve. When you think of a “virus”, the first things that come to mind are the common cold, flu (influenza) and others but viruses aren’t all bad; they perform many important functions in humans and animals protecting against other infections.

What is a viral infection?

A viral infection is when a harmful virus becomes active inside your body. As we mentioned, viruses cannot reproduce without a host so in order to replicate they must infect a host by introducing their genetic material into the cells and then hijacking the cell’s machinery to replicate itself. With this active virtual infection, a virus makes copies of itself before killing the host cell by bursting it and releasing the newly formed replicated virus particles. The new virus cells are now free to continue the process and find more host cells.

Not all viruses are “active” straight away. Certain viruses, like the ones that cause cold sores, can remain inactive after the host becomes infected. This means you could have a cold sore that erupts, it appears to heal, but the virus remains in your system in a dormant state. After, a trigger, such as stress, sunlight or something else, may re-activate the virus and cause additional cold sores.

Are Viruses Alive?

Microbiologists aren’t all on the same page. Those that say viruses are alive offer these reasons:

  • They take energy from their hosts.
  • They replicate themselves to regenerate.

Reasons some microbiologist say viruses are not alive:

  • They need host cells, they cannot reproduce on their own.
  • Viruses don’t have a cell – only genetic material surrounded by protein coatings.

Bacterial vs Viral Infection

Bacteria and viruses are both types of potentially disease causing particles. Both are too small to be seen without a microscope, but viruses are much smaller. That being said, they’re as different as elephants and spiders.

Bacteria are complex, single-celled creatures, many with a rigid wall, and a thin, rubbery membrane surrounding the fluid inside the cell. The key being – they can reproduce on their own. Fossilized records show that bacteria have existed for about 3.5 billion years, and bacteria can survive in different environments, including extreme heat and cold, radioactive waste, and the human body.

Most bacteria are actually harmless, and some help us by digesting food, destroying disease-causing microbes, and providing essential nutrients. Fewer than 1% of bacteria cause diseases in humans.

Fundamentals of COVID-19 Viral Infection

The first fundamental of viral infections is that it leads to massive oxidative stress on the cells they infect. When the virus hijacks the inner machinery of the cell, the infected cell begins to be depleted in its antioxidants. When our cells are infected with the novel coronavirus, they display surplus oxidative stress. Therefore, we can include antioxidants to help the body replenish what it has lost because of the viral infection. 

The portal of entry for the coronavirus is the ACE2 (Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2) receptor. The ACE2 receptor is expressed all the way through the cardiovascular system. This tells us that if you know the portal of entry for the virus is in those systems, it means the virus can get into the cells and hijack the machinery. Parts of the brain associated with PTSD express the ACE2 receptor and patients who contracted SARS-CoV-2 were showing significantly higher rates of PTSD.

The second thing we know about ACE2 and this virus is the little projections sticking out of the virus are S proteins that interact with the ACE2 lock. This protein also known as the TMPRSS2, is the key to entry and is a human enzyme we all have. Like a key cut for a lock, these proteins enter the body through the airways of our lungs. The TMPRSS2 enzyme clings to the protein on the surface of the coronavirus allowing the virus to fuse with the host cell membrane, and move inside the cell. 


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