The current Coronavirus pandemic is affecting various aspects of our lives and with the constant non stop attention from the media, it’s easy to not understand the basics of how Viruses works. Coronavirus is still called a Novel virus as scientists like myself still trying to understand how this virus works. This article will provide a basic understanding on how viruses works so you can see the big picture.
As we notice, businesses are slowing down, employees are made redundant, countries putting travel bans up to 1 month, food and medical supplies are getting restricted. Overall, there is a lot of fear and panic everywhere. Are you worried and concerned?
I spent about 12 years working as a scientist at the University of Queensland, Australia and Harvard Medical School, USA. I have worked with enteric bacterial strains such as E. Coli and used Virus particles as part of my laboratory experiments.
As a biology researcher, some of the common safety procedures that I practiced while working with microorganisms are using gloves, wearing face masks, clean the laboratory bench areas with Hydrogen Peroxide and 70% Ethanol. We also wash our hands with soap and water before and after an experiment. While our homes don’t need to be very sterile like a laboratory, we still can use the abovementioned materials and practices to keep our surroundings sterile.
Viruses are more tricky in comparison to bacteria, yeast, fungus, and parasites. Viruses mutate their DNA at a faster rate and keep changing their structure, which makes it difficult for scientists to figure out how they work and infect us. Viruses use a host (examples: humans, animals, bacteria, etc) for their survival, manipulate their hosts’ DNA machinery and use them for their benefit.
It is important to remember that Viruses can’t be killed (technically). There is so much false information out there that you can kill a Virus using soaps, detergents, etc. If you are infected by a Virus, the currently available treatments can only help you with eliminating the symptoms. Our bodies have an inbuilt immune system that will fight and gradually remove the Virus. There is a common misconception that Antibiotics can kill Viruses, but they don’t. Antibiotics are used for killing Bacteria not Viruses! Antivirals and vaccines are available but they are more preventative measures and don’t offer a permanent cure.
One of the powerful ways to stay on top healthwise during this pandemic is by keeping your immune system intact. The immune system is our first line of defense against any infections that comes from the external environment. If you have a weak immune system, the chances of infection and getting sick are higher. Resting well is an important technique to use while recovering from a Virus infection.
Our immune system is compromised when we are experiencing ongoing stress, unhealthy eating habits, and a sedentary lifestyle. It is important to remember that genetic diseases can also lead to a dysfunctional immune system. Examples of such diseases include Lupus, Type 1 Diabetes, and Rheumatoid Arthritis. People with these diseases should be more careful during this outbreak.
How does Coronavirus spread? Normally through cough droplets. Coronavirus affects the respiratory system. Smoking tobacco, air pollutants, and asbestos weaken our respiratory system. Common respiratory diseases include Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Asthma, lung cancer, and pneumonia. People with such diseases should take extra precautions during this pandemic.
Based on the current evidence, elderly people (above 60 years) and those with a compromised immune system are at risk of Coronavirus complications. Therefore, it is important to safeguard our elders and eliminate any situations that may put them under the risk of getting infected. Aged-care centers are at big risk and need to be extra vigilant.
At the moment, self-isolation seems to be a useful strategy to avoid spreading this virus. If possible, stay at home and avoid unnecessary travels. If you feel that you are infected by this virus, seek medical assistance immediately.
Is your work or business affected by the Coronavirus issue? Do you know anyone who is looking for help due to business loss, redundancy, stress, mental health, etc? Ask them to reach out to me at [email protected]