Expert: Coronavirus Isn & # 039; t & # 039; Alive, & # 039; But it still hurts

Expert: Coronavirus Isn & # 039; t & # 039; Alive, & # 039; But it still hurts


By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, March 26, 2020 (HealthDay News) – It has spread worldwide in just a few months, making hundreds of thousands sick, but the new coronavirus has the dubious distinction of not really being a living organism, biologists say. .

“Viruses are not considered live: In class, I call them pseudo-living,” said Eric Mendenhall, an associate professor of biological science at the University of Alabama at Huntsville.

“They require that a host even begin to function. However, since they use DNA or RNA to transmit information to the next round of viruses that the cell produces, they are subject to some of the same principles of evolution and selection as living organisms are subject to, “he explained in a university press release.

“A virus generally enters the cell through a protein that our cells have on its surface. COVID-19 – and SARS [severe acute respiratory syndrome] before that, use a protein called ACE2, which is found on the surface of cells in our lung, throat and intestinal tract, “Mendenhall said.

Coronaviruses are a category of viruses that typically infect mammals and birds; There were only six that could infect humans before COVID-19 appeared.

“Four cause mild symptoms, like a cold,” Mendenhall said. “SARS was quite famous in 2003 but has not been seen since 2004, I think, and MERS [Middle East respiratory syndrome]It is also deadly and is found in camels and infects people, but it does not spread much, so it is not a big concern. So COVID-19 is the seventh coronavirus and the deadliest by far. ”

It is difficult to say why COVID-19 is so contagious.

“But being a new virus to us can play a role, as it will be the first time that our immune system has seen it, and therefore we don’t have antibodies already made to defend ourselves,” Mendenhall explained.

Viruses cannot spread unless people help them, and people can stop the spread by washing their hands and social distancing.

“If you don’t transmit it, that virus comes to a standstill in your pseudo-life,” Mendenhall said.

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SOURCE: University of Alabama, Huntsville, press release, March 23, 2020

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