Introducing the Coronavirus

In December 2019, a new virus emerged that was named coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in February. The virus has been classified as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). It is preceded by two other coronaviruses: severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). The knowledge collected from previous outbreaks along with data collection for COVID-19 will continue to provide sources of information for vaccination/drug development.

What is a coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are approximately 120 nm in diameter and are enveloped [1]. The virus particles contain strands of RNA – RNA gives the instructions for making proteins. For the viruses, these strands provide all the information needed to make multiple copies of themselves, including the spikes on the surface of the virus, the envelope, nucleocapsid that houses the RNA and the viral membrane. In order to do this, they need to gain entry into our cells and once inside our cell, they will hijack our own cellular machinery so they can make proteins from their RNA molecule and build more viruses.

How does coronavirus spread?

In order to make copies of itself, the virus needs to find a way to enter a host’s cell. It can do this by attaching itself to molecules on the cell surface of cells in the lungs. Scientists in China have shown that in the case of COVID-19 (and SARS) the virus binds to angiotensin-converting enzyme II (ACE2) which acts as a receptor [2] for the spikes on the viral envelope. From here it gains entry into the cytoplasm of the cell, and will access the machinery to replicate itself. Once the virus has replicated itself, its particles are released from the cells, and this is where coughing, for example, will release these new particles from the lungs into the air in droplets, ready to be picked up by a new unsuspecting host.

Why is there not a cure?

When a new infection occurs that has not been seen before, the immune system will not be prepared to fight it. This is the same with any new disease, whether viral or bacterial. Targeting the virus means getting to know everything about it before a cure can be found and even then, it takes months or years to develop a vaccine. WHO is presently working with Chinese scientists to get over 80 clinical trials up and running so the pressure is on and I have no doubt, everything that can be done, is being done.

References

1.            Li, X., et al., Molecular immune pathogenesis and diagnosis of COVID-19. Journal of Pharmaceutical Analysis, 2020.

2.            Zhou, P., et al., A pneumonia outbreak associated with a new coronavirus of probable bat origin. Nature, 2020. 579 (7798): p. 270-273.

Science and Spirituality

Photo by Felix Mittermeier on Pexels.com

Science has a very important place in understanding the human race, the world and the universe. It is based on both intellectual and practical activities producing systematic studies and observations through testable explanations, predictions and experiments. Collectively, these form scientific theories regarding the behaviour of the physical and natural world and the universe.

The earliest scientific roots can be traced back to Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, circa 3500 to 3000 BCE. Some argue that the universal knowledge and understanding of our early ancestors, far exceeds that of our present understanding – you only have to consider the pyramids to appreciate that sentiment. Science does not have all of the answers of the universe and potentially never will – or as Albert Einstein said ‘the more I learn, the more I realise I do not know’.

 I believe that sometimes, we only need to look as far as our own heart and mind to experience the ‘unknowable’. Of course, personal experiences are subjective however, does that make them any less feasible?

I take great comfort in meditation and doing so with an intention – looking for guidance or support. For example, when I experience discontentment with a choice I have made, I will meditate over it. Sometimes, but not always, the way forward appears very clear and I have the answers I need to move forward. The question is, is this because of divine or other-worldly intervention or is it because I took the time to relax, clear my mind of clutter and focus on my intention?

In medical science there is something known as the placebo effect, which has been proven. In essence what this refers to is when trialling a new drug for a particular condition or disease, some will receive what looks like the drug when in fact it nothing more than a sweet. BUT they still see an improvement in their condition much like those taking the actual drug may. So, my point here is – if it works, does it really matter how? Should you question it too harshly?

As a scientist, my brain is conditioned to theorise and then prove or disprove the theory. But even then, there are often still more questions than answers and more theories to be tested. In my mind – we are still evolving, learning and understanding in all aspects of life. Just because we do not understand, does not mean something can not be correct. It is OK to believe in what others consider unbelievable; it is OK to accept that you do not know how something worked – it just did. If we stop asking so many questions, we may have more time to listen to the answers.

To finish, I have just purchased a book on spiritual science, I am interested in reading the thoughts of others in relation to the marriage of science and spirituality. I may change my viewpoints or have fresh ideas and if so, I look forward to sharing them with you.

Namaste

Tracey