What is COVID-19?

Daily, the media is filled with reports on the mystery virus dominating the globe. Those who fall victim to this disease experience major detriments to their health, including potential death. Others, seeing the widespread effects of this on those around them, are panicked as they try to maintain the vitality of themselves and their families. But what exactly is this illness that is wreaking havoc around the globe? Although the dialogue regarding COVID-19 has grown insurmountably over the past few months, coronaviruses have been around for much longer than people may know.

Individuals were first infected with coronavirus in the 60s; however, other strands have not been as aggressive as the current situation. Coronavirus (named after its crown-like shape) is divided into four subtypes, with seven total strains. Of the strains, four of them are common, easily cured, and result in cold-like symptoms. These types come from the alpha (229E and NL63) and beta (OC43 and HKU1) subtypes, which serve as insignificant threats to the immune system. The remaining three variations, MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV, and SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19), are not as simple.

The term “novel coronavirus” derives from the fact that nothing of its kind has existed before.”

MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV originated in the Middle East and Asia, respectively, and present similar conditions to COVID-19. Nonetheless, COVID-19 has impacted the world at a much more alarming rate. SARS-CoV-2, first found in animals, spread to humans, initiating the spread of the disease. The term “novel coronavirus” derives from the fact that nothing of its kind has existed before. The care and procedures for treatment deviates greatly from all other strains, as it is the most aggressive.

COVID-19 attacks the upper-respiratory system, causing shortness of breath. Furthermore, the victim experiences fever, dry cough, lethargy, and a runny nose, making way for the disease to be spread through liquid being secreted from the nose and mouth. In a radius of six feet from the infected patient, another person can come into contact with these droplets, which then enter their respiratory system and add to the vicious cycle. In just two weeks, COVID-19 can fully present itself in those who have come into contact with an ill person. As it makes it way through a body, the spiky surface of the virus latches on to the ACE2 receptors, which innocently flow by. The virus takes down the surrounding healthy cells, weakening the immune system, and travels into the lower respiratory system, where more ACE2 receptors are awaiting the virus. This is what differentiates COVID-19 from the common cold since the lungs feel a deep inflammation. The alveoli in the lungs are suffocated, which prevents the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide that supplies the body with the ability to function. COVID-19 attacks the body from the inside and makes those with underlying conditions defenseless.

COVID-19 attacks its victims by taking away the resources needed to sustain life.”

Although coronavirus presents itself in a majority of ways through its various strains, COVID-19 attacks its victims by taking away the resources needed to sustain life. By breaking down the lower respiratory system, this disease acts as one unlike the rest. The mystery virus has now become a household name.

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