What is a 'virus'? Explained by biomedical researchers

With the

new coronavirus infectious disease (COVID-19), which is rampant around the world, the word 'virus' has become more frequent. In the first place, Lotti Tajouri, an associate professor of biomedicine at Bond University, explains what a virus is all about and how it lives.

What is a virus? How do they spread? How do they make us sick?

It is estimated that there are over 1,000 (10 31) viruses on Earth. Viruses do not have the ability to produce or store energy, but live on the cells of other organisms, using the energy they produce. Viruses are considered non-living because they cannot live alone.

Viruses that are not parasitic on cells exist as independent particles called virions . Virions can survive for a period of time without being parasitized by cells. Also, when a virion comes into contact with an organism that has cells, the organism becomes infected with the virus.

The virus that has infested the cells begins to produce and multiply virions. Some

viruses have been confirmed to take over or prey on cells . The multiplied virus migrates to other cells as it infests more cells.

Some viruses have membranes made of lipids, including the new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) . Lipid membranes can be dissolved by soap, and melting the membranes can destroy the virus itself. For this reason, washing hands with soap is recommended as an effective measure against viruses, including the new coronavirus.

Why is 'soap' the strongest against new coronavirus? -GIGAZINE

The virus travels through a cough, sneeze, detached skin, or something the host touches, to a new host or another that is not a cell. In this way, the virus spreads through various things and causes disease outbreaks.

Some viruses recognize certain organisms and parasitize them. For example,

cats can be infected with the feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), a virus that causes AIDS in cats. Bats have multiple coronaviruses, including the new coronavirus.

The new coronavirus is a type of virus belonging to the coronaviridae family , and falls under the same classification as the SARS coronavirus that caused severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003 and the MERS coronavirus that caused the Middle East respiratory syndrome in 2012.

The name 'coronavirus' comes from the fact that when the virus is viewed microscopically, small protein protrusions on the surface of the virion look like solar corona .

Coronaviruses, including the new coronavirus, mutate relatively frequently, and it has been confirmed that

seven types of coronaviruses infect humans at the time of writing. Above all, the new coronavirus has a higher infectivity to cells than the SARS coronavirus, and details of this feature can be found in the following articles.

The new coronavirus turns out to be more infectious to cells than the 2003 SARS coronavirus-gigazine


'Many people tend to worry about what kind of disease can be caused by a virus. But you should know more about the nature of the virus, its routes of transmission, and the means of propagation,' said Tajouri. We recommend that you deepen your knowledge of the virus.

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