“Coronavirus (COVID-19) Special Points of Interest”

First, what is a virus and is it alive? Viruses are not “alive” but can be considered pseudo-alive because they require a host cell to begin to function. They use DNA or RNA to pass information to the next round of viruses their host cells make for them. Once inside us, a virus literally hijacks the genetics of our cells. A virus needs to get its genetic material, called a viral genome, into the host cell. This is either DNA or RNA, and for COVID-19 it’s RNA. Then it uses the machinery of the cell to make viral proteins and more copies of itself. Some scientists use benign viruses to carry modified genes to targeted cells as a way of doing gene therapy. A virus usually enters the cell through a protein our cells have on their surface. COVID-19—and SARS before that—use a protein called ACE2, which is on the surface of the cells in our lung, throat and intestinal tract. The COVID-19 virus is a ball with a protein called the spike protein that sticks out all around the virus and looks like a solar corona or a king’s crown. Coronaviruses only infect mammals and birds and there were six that could infect humans before COVID-19. Four cause mild symptoms, like a cold and COVID-19 is the seventh coronavirus and the deadliest by far. Our bodies have not been exposed to it before and have no immunity towards it. Our cells are duped into becoming a slave to the virus. The viral proteins assemble into new “baby viruses.”

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