Coronavirus animation: How COVID19 attacks the body

Everything we know about the coronavirus.


NSFW    TAIPEI — The COVID-19 coronavirus, or SARS-CoV-2, spreads through droplets that people make when we talk, cough or sneeze. The virus can be carried for up to 27 feet and land on the respiratory system, according to a study in the Journal of American Medical Association.

A gene sequence study published in Frontiers in Medicine showed that the coronavirus targets human cells with ACE2 receptors. This means the epithelial cells in the lungs and other organs are vulnerable to the coronavirus.

The coronavirus has mutations in the spike proteins on its surface. The mutations to the receptor binding domains, or RBDs, allow the virus to use human ACE2 receptors as entry points for getting into the cell.

According to the British Society for Immunology, the virus hijacks the cell and commandeers the structures inside the cell to make more copies of itself. The infected cell's ribosomes are directed to create viral RNA and proteins.

After that, the cell's Golgi apparatus puts the proteins and RNA together and coats them in protein, which creates new copies of the coronavirus.

The biochemical distress of being hijacked by the virus eventually kills the cell, which causes damage to the infected tissue.

At the same time, the body tries to fight off the infection by sending killer T-cells. The killer cells search and destroy compromised cells. The immune system's attack on the infected part of the body leads to more tissue damage and inflammation.

Speaking to the Guardian, John Wilson, president-elect of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and a respiratory physician, said the coronavirus infection spreads down the respiratory system and may reach the alveoli at the bottom of the lungs. This fills the lungs with liquids and inflammatory materials.

Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, breathing difficulties and muscle pains. Citing doctors, the New York Times reports the virus may move in the blood to attack the heart, the kidneys, and the liver. Lung damage would also deprive patients of blood oxygen.

George Washington University Hospital reports that 20 percent of COVID-19 patients are symptomatic. A portion of these develop severe symptoms and become unable to breathe without using ventilators or other medical devices.
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