COVID-19 : Is it ‘JUST THE FLU’?

Science behind the Covid-19 and why it has led to a pandemic. Why is it different from a common flu?

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You hear many people talk about “IT’S JUST THE FLU ” virus and if we can take the flu- we are going to be okay with this.
Here’s why ‘THIS IS NOT JUST THE FLU’ virus and why it has caused a PANDEMIC (unlike a common flu).

Bear with me as I go explaining some of the scientific terms and I promise I shall keep it simple to understand. All the information I am presenting below is compilation of my reading on the virion from various scientific literature and experience from working as a scientist in department of Immunology/clinical research trials field.

Let’s start with the FLU: This is a virus which is known to infect humans and jumps from ‘Humans to Humans’ hence our immune system can recognize this and attack it and get over it after 3-4 days. This human virus strain keeps mutating and hence every year, we need a new flu shot to keep up with the mutating human virus. But still our immune system (our soldiers) can take it and knows the general route of attack.

This Virus COVID 19 only existed in animals and jumped only from ‘Animals to Animals’ and hence their immune system knew how to attack this virus.

HOWEVER, the COVID 19 virus jumped from ‘Animals to Humans’ in the Wuhan market. Viruses keep mutating and it mutated again and now it could be transmitted from ‘Humans to Humans’. The problem with this is that our human immune system soldiers have never seen this virus and therefore do not have the ability to combat effectively.

Therefore, it is getting transmitted so fast unlike our regular Flu virus. This has led to the PANDEMIC mode of this virus.

For any vaccines to be developed, scientists not only have to study this viral species but also have to be able to do a few clinical trials to make sure about the dosage requirements and any side effects. This all takes time and cannot be an overnight design.

Meanwhile, the mutated version of this virus is damaging lungs and has ability to keep mutating as it jumps hosts.

The viral strain coming out of Wuhan Market was the ‘S’ strain and it quickly mutated to a ‘L’ strain. Records are indicating that it took only 2-3 weeks for this strain to Mutate. The L strain is more aggressive and replicating faster and hence is now seen more in humans affected in recent times.

People with a better immune system still have enough soldiers in their body to fight this L- COVID 19 strain. Our people with a compromised immune system and our senior citizens with fewer immune soldiers need medical intervention.

However, if we disregard this COVID strain and continue looking at it like the ‘FLU virus’- there are chances that the more hosts (people) it jumps through, it may acquire more mutations and we may be facing a viral strain that even the soldiers in the healthiest human bodies cannot combat. (Remember, our human soldiers have never seen this animal virus and are trying to figure out how to battle them).

People in the past pandemics (Spanish Flu, Black Plague) used the lethal weapon of starving these viruses and preventing them from further mutating by ISOLATION.

This is the only way we can prevent the virus from mutating into something super difficult to combat. Some viral strains are known to be so small that they can be transmitted through eyes or even can penetrate through masks. Some viral strains can cause way more damage than just infecting lungs. Let’s keep this mutation contained to the level it is right now.

ISOLATION will help us buy time for our medical researchers to come up with vaccine or any medicine that can fight this particular strain. Or else our medical research teams will come up with the cure and by that time the virus will have mutated into a completely new strain which will be resistant to this cure.


Dr. Sheetal Karnik

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