What is the coronavirus and what does it actually do in your body?
What Happens If There's a PANDEMIC?
As the coronavirus from Wuhan China continues to spread across the globe. Many more are becoming infected and some even dying.
As of making this video 132 people have died worldwide with over six
thousand infected in China alone. But what actually happens to your body if you contract the corona virus. Now,
before we get into it we want to make clear that this video is in no way intended to
spread fear or over sensationalize the severity of the corona virus.
We won't be commenting on its global threat level because that information is constantly
changing while experts monitor its spread. But what we will be looking at is how the corona
virus actually infects the body. What it does inside of you, and then how it causes symptoms spreads how your body actually then fights it off, or it causes death in some .
Corona viridi are actually an entire family of viruses that cause disease in mammals and birds.
SARS for example was also a corona virus. Now, viruses are interesting and that they are
sometimes considered both living and nonliving things.
They aren't made of cells but they do have the ability to replicate just in a different way than
other organisms. Oh and they're actually much much smaller than cells.
Now to contract the corona virus you first have to come in contact with it either through an
infected person's respiratory secretions so a cough,
or a sneeze through physical contact with them, or by physically touching a surface that the
virus is on, and then touching somewhere like your nose,
or your mouth before washing your hands.
Once the virus is able to enter your body it's work can begin.
One thing that all viruses have in common is that they carry some kind of genetic material either,
DNA or RNA, in the case of corona virus it carries RNA which has all the information the virus
needs to replicate. The genetic information in a virus is typically surrounded by a protective
capsid. You may picture this when you think of a virus and it is a virus but this is a virus
that attacks bacteria also known as a bacteriophage. In the case of the
the RNA is encased in a helical capsid and that helical capsid is actually encased in an
envelope.It looks more like this kind of like the emoji of a virus and these projections
coming out of the surface or the club-like structures are very important for what happens next.
Once the virus comes in contact with your cells it binds to receptors on that cell.
You can think of the outer layer of the virus like a key and if the virus has found the right cells
in the right species its keys are able to open the lock on these cells, as a result the
virus is able to enter where it now has access to all the cells machinery.
Now normally this machinery is reserved for your own DNA which uses something called
ribosomes to make proteins that have all sorts of functions and travel all over your body.
But the coronavirus ends up hijacking this system. It uses its own RNA to go to those
ribosomes and starts making proteins that it wants. So. basically your cell starts producing
viruses by making the genetic material by making the capsid and envelope and ultimately
your cell becomes a virus making machine. And, this is why viruses are often considered
nonliving because they don't actually have the machinery to do this work they actually need
your body's cells to do it. So, the corona virus has its RNA instructions read over,
and over, and over, and makes protein after protein, after protein,
and ultimately can make millions of viruses. These viruses eventually fill the cell and make their
way back to the cell membrane where they break out often destroying the cell in the process.
Once out, it's on to the next cell to repeat this cycle all over again.
Now,as your cells begin to get damaged and die your body will sense this and start to trigger an immune response, and both of these things are what will create these symptoms that you begin
to feel. In the case of the corona virus, these symptoms include headaches, runny nose,
coughing, sore throat, and fever which is part of the reason why it's been so hard to track and understand because those are common symptoms we feel those all the time especially during
flu season or just from getting the common cold. Medical professionals would need to do
laboratory tests on respiratory specimens as well as blood work and blood tests to
understand if your symptoms are coming from the Wuhan corona virus. In a healthy individual,
the immune system will eventually realize that there's a foreign agent inside your body and
mount an attack. The immune system is incredibly complex with the plethora of different
mechanisms to take down your invaders.
Your temperature increases which helps your immune system function better and actually
makes it a more hostile environment for the virus you might create more snot and phlegm
which make it harder for the virus to attach to your cells and also help to get rid of dead
viruses and immune cells. You may feel weak and tired as your body starts to prioritize
fighting off this virus instead of doing your regular day-to-day activities and your bones
may actually feel sore and ache and that's because they're actually making more white
blood cells. For its mainline defense when the corona virus is detected the body triggers
signals to start producing antibodies. These antibodies are created by your own DNA.
There are essentially sections of code in each cells DNA that contained the instructions
of how to build different defense systems. Enzymes in the nucleus find the right section
of DNA make a copy called messenger RNA which gets sent to the ribosome in your cells
which will read these instructions and start making the relevant proteins. With up to 10 million ribosomes in each cell, they become an antibody making Factory which are sent outside
of the cell to fight the virus. The trickiest part for your body is that the immune response
doesn't catch the virus right away. So, essentially the virus starts with an upper hand
this is why it can take so long for your body to fight off a virus. But for coronavirus those
with healthy immune systems should be able to fight off and rid the body of the virus
within weeks. The problem is primarily for those who have compromised immune systems
which is often people who are elderly or people who are very young. This particular
corona virus has mostly affected the elderly and that's because as we age our immune
systems become less effective and they actually slow down. As the virus continues to
proliferate and cells continue to die in a desperate attempt to save your body your immune
system can go into overdrive. In severe cases, white blood cells are responsible for
activating a variety of chemicals which can cause the leaking of fluid into your lungs and this combination of cellular destruction from the virus and fluid-filled lungs interrupts the transportation
of oxygen into the bloodstream which can lead to suffocation and organ failure.
But the virus isn't always the cause of death. Often with a weakened and distracted
immune system other organisms like bacteria are able to take advantage of the body
causing further complications. As organs begin to shut down, the whole body can as well.
To reiterate it's the immunocompromise that are most at risk and even with that it's worth
saying that the numbers are relatively low.
If you think about it 40,000 people died of the flu in the US alone last year, and over a million
people died of heart disease.
On top of that the death rate right now is being estimated between 2 and 3 percent which is continually evolving but a disease like SARS was a death rate of 10% and Ebola in some
regions has been up to 50 percent.
All this to say don't allow the news to make you panic. We live in Toronto where the SARS
virus got world-scale attention.
That's because the only people who died outside of Asia from that virus were in Canada and
most of them were in Toronto. With only 44 people dying in total in Canada,
it had a huge impact on our city we lost a lot of tourism we lost millions of dollars but most importantly we saw a lot of stigma and racism towards Chinese people.
It's important that we do not repeat those racist notions that happen to your in
Toronto and we all need to be aware of this when we talk about the current coronavirus.
On our social media channels, we've seen lots of people saying things like this always
happens in China, and relating it a lot to the types of foods that Chinese people eat.
But it's important to remember that Western food practices are what created mad cow disease,
and also Western meat consumption has created a big issue with antibiotic resistance.
We need to listen to and trust public health professionals, and we need to not overreact,
and we need to not use this as an excuse to be racist. If you like these videos make
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time for another science video peace. Yes.
1. What do you know about the coronavirus? How does the virus pass from person to person?
2. What has your country told you about the coronavirus? How worried are you about the coronavirus?
3. What would you do if your city was in lockdown?