What are coronaviruses?

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that causes illness in humans and animals. Scientists identified seven different types of coronaviruses. They cause SARS, MERS and COVID-19 which is the major pandemic these days. Although new coronavirus is not severe than SARS or MERS, it spreads very rapidly while showing fewer symptoms than the other viruses. That’s why we should know about the coronaviruses very well.


What types of coronaviruses?

Coronaviruses usually cause mild colds in humans and animals. But sometimes they can be severe than that. SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS  (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) are the best examples to prove that they can cause severe diseases as well.

The whole world is battling with another coronavirus since December 2019 and SARS-CoV-2 (Severe Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2) is responsible for this outbreak which was first identified in Wuhan, China.

What do coronaviruses look like?

Coronaviruses are relatively simple structures that are globular in shape and coated with spikes of proteins which helps the virus to bind to a surface and infect healthy cells. In another way, these spikes help the immune system to identify the virus. Some of these spikes can be used in coronavirus vaccines to induce the production of antibodies against the virus.

The naming of the coronaviruses has been done based on the shape of the spikes which form a layer of the membrane. The genome is situated inside the membrane. Although some viruses contain DNA as the genetic material, in coronavirus RNA acts as the genetic material. The RNA genome is small when comparing with the DNA genome. Mutations that happen inside the viruses help to adapt to the environment and they will infect new host species as well. Scientists believe that the new COVID-19 virus originated from bats. But there’s no actual idea how these viruses came into the human body from animals.

Difference in new coronavirus?

There’s are more similarities in SARS-CoV-2  with SARS-CoV-2 which found in humans, pangolins, civets and bats. But there are differences caused by the changes in their genomes. The ways of transmitting and the symptoms of different coronaviruses are different from each other. According to the scientist, the new coronavirus is not severe than SARS but it spreads very rapidly than the SARS virus.


How many coronaviruses can be found in humans?

Scientists identified seven coronaviruses in humans. Four of them are less severe and cause mild respiratory illness in humans. But those viruses can affect in a severe way in humans which have a poor immunity system. SARS, MERS and COVID-19 act in a severe way causing difficulties to breathe and death. Although COVID-19 is less severe than SARS and MERS, it is severe than the other four coronaviruses.

Human coronavirus nameIllness caused by the virus
SARS-CoVSevere Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)
MERS-CoVMiddle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS)
HKU1Mild respiratory illness
HCoV-NL63Mild respiratory illness
HCoV-229EMild respiratory illness
HCoV-OC43Mild respiratory illness

Because SAR-CoV-2 is a new coronavirus people have no immunity for that. So many people can be infected by this virus causing a widespread all around the world in a very short time.  Scientists believe that all seven coronaviruses have been transmitted to humans from animals. They also believe that the reasons for SARS, MERS and COVID-19 can be bats while the intermediate host of the COVID-19 is pangolins.

How to identify these coronaviruses?

When a human is infected by those viruses PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) test can be done to identify the coronavirus. But the PCR test is not only for COVID-19. Not only that Rapid antigen test can be done to identify an infected person in a very short time compared with a PCR test. But PCR test is more accurate than the rapid antigen test.


How to react for new coronavirus?

People can reduce the spread of COVID-19 by

  • Wearing a mask
  • Maintaining the social distance
  • Stay at home
  • Reducing the spread by vaccination
coronaviruses, covid-19
Photo by Hakan Nural on Unsplash

Featured image by Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash

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