With all the debate about COVID-19, also known as SARS-CoV-2, some people are still claiming that it is no worse or actually is a form of the flu. Pay no attention to these people because they have not bothered with any effort at all to understand how the virus functions in the body.
I do understand that the information which has been disseminated has been confusing and frequently biased in one direction or another. I was highly questioning of the danger in the beginning, though will say that was when there was only one known variant. That grew to 3 and now stands at 36 known (repeat known) mutations. Some strains are more aggressive than others and are far more dangerous than the less aggressive strains. Many people who argue that the virus is not dangerous do not realize that there is more than one strain at all. I also doubt they understand the implications.
I did happen to run across one very good article that does explain this in layman’s terms, which I will reference below. That said, the more sources which repeat valid information using differed wording, the better the information enters the mainstream. So here is an excerpt:
“SARS-CoV-2 invades human cells by latching its spike protein onto the ACE2 receptor found on the surface of cells in the airways, lungs, heart, kidneys and blood vessels. The ACE2 protein is an important player in the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system, which regulates blood vessel dilation and blood pressure. Two classes of drugs widely used to treat high blood pressure and heart disease — ACE inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers — interact with the ACE2 receptor. A possible concern related to COVID-19 stems from the notion that these blood pressure medications could increase the number of ACE2 receptors expressed on cells, possibly creating more molecular gates for the virus to enter. Some experts have wondered whether the use of such drugs could render people who take them more susceptible to infection. Conversely, others have postulated that the abundance of ACE2 receptors may enhance cardiovascular function, exercising a protective effect during infection.
The answer is far from clear, but a recent review suggests these medicines may play a dual role in COVID-19 — on the one hand, enhancing susceptibility to infection and, on the other, protecting the heart and ameliorating lung damage from the disease.
Libby and Ridker cautioned that patients who take such life-saving medications should stay on them or at least have a careful discussion with their cardiologists. This is because these drugs have clear and well-established benefits in hypertension and certain forms of heart disease, while their propensity to make humans more susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 remains speculative for the time being.”
The end takeaway from this is that there is far more research needed, which will take time. Can’t do human experimentation legally, especially when it could be fatal.
However, we know that the virus attaches to the ACE2 enzyme receptors, which line the heart, lungs, kidneys and intestinal tract, regulating various processes in the body. During the first stages of the virus and for those who show no symptoms, the virus multiplies without causing impact into the function of the receptors and organs. In later stages, the virus multiplies more rapidly and then the viral load can overcome the ACE2 receptors, causing disruption in the enzyme expression, which in turn results in organ function, damage or failure.
The debate above is about whether ACE Inhibitors may do more harm or more good in controlling this effect. It appears to be a mixture of both, however, from what is expressed here, it could be that this drug class may be helpful in later stages. We just have to wait and see what research reveals.
The major devastating impact seems to be heart (first) and lung damage. Though this also explains why some patients present with gastric symptoms.
This also explains why the elderly, cardiac and chronic respiratory patients are more prone to dangerous complications. These patients are more susceptible to ACE2 disruptions causing organ damage or failure.
There is no flu which operates in this manner.
While slightly long, I do encourage those who want to know more to read the referenced article, as it explains more of the effects of the virus on patients with no medical history, cytokine storm, undiagnosed medical issues, etc.
With 36 known variants, it seems highly unlikely that this is going away any time soon. We don’t even know if it will continue to mutate into even more strains, one or more of which could be more aggressive than the ones we have encountered.
It has been noted that the mortality (death) rate from this virus varies widely from one location to another. In New York, the mortality rate of those placed on ventilators is 88%. In other places, the rate is around 10%. The information needed to discern the difference is whether this is due to a difference in treatment, in base population or in the variant/s present.
I could be wrong but one reason I suspect the effects are more drastic in much of the US population is diet. The virus causes an obvious systemic inflammatory response. The all too typical American diet includes many food varieties which cause or worsen inflammation to begin with. Compare to the diets in many other countries.
That inflammatory cascade is not only painful but when severe enough causes interference in the functioning of internal organs. Most notably heart, lungs, kidneys, intestines and joints. I have not heard of it crossing the blood-brain barrier or invading the nervous system. Any nervous involvement appears to be secondary to other organ function. It has the potential to cause nervous system problems if a person develops blood clots or blood flow is restricted to any part of the nervous system due to existing vascular disease being exacerbated by inflammation.
Some people will claim this is not the worst pandemic to have hit mankind. However, how bad any epidemic/pandemic may be depends entirely on the medical technology of the time. Considering we have the technology such as mechanical ventilators, ancillary medications for symptoms and IV medications for major symptoms, this virus is not seen to be as serious as it would have been in a different time period. Imagine what the toll would have been 100 years ago.
So, when a person downplays the severity of this infection, share this information with them. If we discuss these things, we need to have all the factual information available that we can gather.