Sars-Cov-2, All the Things We Don’t Know

Last Updated on 27 September 2022

It forced us to change our habits and our entire life. It made us live with the fear of dying. It is regarded as the most awful pandemic of our century. It is Sars Cov2, an invisible enemy commonly known as novel coronavirus and covid19. But what is the truth about this awful virus? We’ll know a day the truth?

These are tough questions which pose further questions about the future of the entire mankind. However, the lack of reliable info makes us unable to protect and defending us from the contagion. To obtain a clear and simple overview about SARS-Cov-2, we need to travel back into time and discover more about its name, origin, features, lethality, and treatment.

If you are ready for a more comprehensive understanding about Sars Cov 2, follow the subsequent paragraphs.

Sars Cov2: The Name

Sars Cov2 is also called Covid 19. That is the acronym of the full name COronaVIrus Disease-19, which indicates the year of the apparition of the virus. Hence, there is no difference between Sars Cov2 and Covid 19. They are the same virus.

Initially, the virus was temporarily called 2019-nCoV. The official name Sars Cov2 was given by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses on February 11, 2020. Hence, the name of Sars Cov2 stands for what is globally known as Coronavirus.

The latter derives just from the viral structure, characterized by pointed proteins called spike. The surface of the virus is surrounded by several spike proteins which are alike a crown. Corona, is, in fact, the Latin name of Crown.

Sars Cov2: The Origin

The first Sars Cov2 hotbed was detected on December 31, 2019 in Wuhan, a city in the East of China, in the province of Hubei. The city is 800 km away from Shanghai and is the main crossroad with the main global routes, such as Europe, but also the United States and the rest of the world.

The initial Sars Cov 2 cases were referred to people who attended the fish local market, where strange wild animals were also sold as food. From this detail, scientists said that SARS-Cov-2 or coronavirus originated from wild animals, but this origin has never been officially confirmed.

The first infections from Sars Cov 2 were identified as unusual and severe pneumonias, but the agent responsible of the infection was communicated by the local health authorities only on January, 9, 2020. That day, the Chinese Center for Disease Control revealed that the responsible of these first cases of pneumonia was a new species of coronavirus.

Afterwards, Chinese scientists sequenced the Sars Cov 2 genome and put this important data at disposal of the global scientific community. The news that the new coronavirus was able to be transmitted from humans to humans was spread only after the discover. Meanwhile, millions of Chinese people from Wuhan travelled across the globe and this fact was how a virus born in a city of China became endemic.

Sars Cov2: Originated in a Laboratory?

Theories and hypothesis about where Sars Cov 2 comes from are still fairly controversial and unclear.

Another ominous theory about the origin of Sars-Cov-2 is that the virus may be been created artificially in a Chinese laboratory in Wuhan. This news has been broadcasted by Italian television in the telecast Presa Diretta.

The journalistic investigation revealed that the Chinese laboratories have performed experiments on lethal viruses since 2004. To do that, these facilities received massive funds by the United States and France. In 2014, President Barack Obama stopped these funds. Unfortunately, President Trump restored them.

The latter suspended the allocations only in 2020, after the spread of pandemic. In the above-mentioned laboratory, it was conducted a type of experiment called “gain of functions”, namely scientists modified the genes of existing viruses to make them more lethal!

The Chinese Government always denied this responsibility, but it has also been seen that the virus protein called “spike”, the one that Sars Cov2 uses to infect us, fits perfectly with the receptors of our cells. It would be like a sort of puzzle where a piece interlocks perfectly with the other. An interesting opinion about the origin of Covid-19 has been reported in an article published on the website of the National Academy of the Sciences of the United States of America.

Just think what may happen if scientists modified HIV, the virus of AIDS. The latter is transmitted by blood. Think about what could happen if the awful virus HIV gained the function of being transmitted by air! At this stage, we must properly understand how Sars Cov2 is transmitted. Read the following paragraph to discover it.

Sars Cov2: How Is It Transmitted?

Initially, global media said that the virus was transmitted from bats to humans, but not even this hypothesis has never been firmly confirmed. In February 2020, the ISS (Health Superior Institute of Italy) revealed the 88% of the genome of two bat coronaviruses matches with the one of Sars Cov2 which affected humans.

In the past, the genetical similarities among Sars Cov1, Mers and these bat coronaviruses were respectively of 79% and 55%. As for these previous infections, the hypothesis is that the virus transmission didn’t happen straight from bats to humans, but through an intermediate passage with another wild animal, a snake, perhaps.

Unfortunately, even this intermediate virus host has not been identified, yet. What is clear is that Sars Cov2 has, by now, a rapid human to human transmission. There are no evidences that the virus can be transmitted from other animals to humans and from them to animals, such as dogs and cats.

A detailed dossier about the Sars Cov2 transmission, published by The National Association of Italian Doctors, reveals the main ways in which Sar Cov2 gets transmitted among humans. These data are always obtained by the medical observations made on infected people all around the world.

The transmission ways of Sars Cov2 are:

  • Aerial, through droplets emitted when we sneeze, cough or breath
  • Close physical contact, such as hand shake or touching contaminated surfaces with the hands.

Furthermore, the Yellow Book issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States affirms that the “close vicinity” among people is meant approximatively as a distance within two meters.

While droplets can enter our body through nose, mouth, and conjunctival mucous membranes, it is unclear if we can get infected by touching contaminated surfaces and soon after by touching our nose, eyes and mouth with the hands. However, scientists affirm that these parts of our face contain the receptors that facilitate the replication of the virus and its arrival in lungs. Hence, to reduce the risk to get infected, virologists suggest to wash and sanitize hands and surfaces very frequently.

By these simple rules, the world officially entered the age of social distancing, because keeping ourselves physically distant is one of the main ways to not breath droplets contaminated with Sars Cov2 and save our life and the one of others.

 Sars Cov2 Symptoms

The virus of Sars Cov2 belongs to the wide family of RNA coronaviruses called CoV (subfamily Orthoronavirinae, family Coronaviridae, subspecies Cornidovirineae, species Nidovirales). These viruses are known to cause common cold, flu, gastrointestinal and respiratory symptoms.

The difference between the new coronavirus known as Sars COv2 and others coronaviruses is that the new infection can cause the so called Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, already seen with the first SARS epidemy in 2002 – 2003 and with MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) occurred in 2012.

These respiratory syndromes are very severe, because they impair our respiratory function. If the respiratory crisis is massive, weaker patients may die. World Health Organization reports that new coronavirus may cause from mild to severe symptoms such as:

  • Fever
  • Dry cough
  • Muscle aches
  • Sore throat
  • Diarrhea
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Headache
  • Loss of taste and smell
  • Rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes
  • Pneumonia.

The pneumonia from Sars Cov2 is interstitial, namely the disease affects the main components of our lungs: alveoli. With Sars Cov2, pulmonary tissue develops massive inflammation. If the inflammation is not treated, alveoli may be destroyed. In this case, pulmonary tissue appears covered by scars. Unfortunately, when this condition occurs, breathing becomes impossible. It is as if you got strangled! This respiratory disease is often accompanied by short breath and preceded by fatigue.

According to clinical trials performed in China, the virus may affect kidneys, hearth, vascular system, and brain, as well. When the reaction to the virus is severe, the disease may take a longer recovery time. In laboratory tests made to identify the further damages from Sars Cov2, the RNA of the virus has been detected in the 15% of patients with the technique of PCR.

Why Sars Cov2 Can Infect Humans Quickly?

Sars Cov2 has a high rate of infection among humans. As said, its genome matches perfectly with the receptors of our cells. It seems a virus developed right to live inside us!

As all coronaviruses, this genome contains a unique big filament of RNA which can easily attack the respiratory tract of humans. RNA is a molecule that has the function to synthetize proteins in the cells. Unlike DNA, which is a molecule formed by a double filament ad is unable to leave cells, RNA transmits genetical information to cells.

One of these processes is just the creation of proteins, namely the process that the big RNA of Sars Cov2 leverages to creates copies of the virus in our cells. There are cells where Sars Cov2 replicate more easily. This feature is called cellular tropism.

A medical research published on The Lancet revealed that SARS-CoV-2 enters the cell through the angiotensin-converting enzyme-2 (ACE-2), sensed by Toll-like receptor-7 (TLR7). This receptor is predominantly in lungs and bronchus and opens the way to the replication of SARS-CoV-2. When scientists talk about the tropism of Sars Cov 2, they mean the type of cells which are suitable to host the virus for its replication. That is why, humans get quickly infected by the novel coronavirus.

Sars Cov 2 Fatality Rate

As already said, this pandemic forced us to live with the fear to die. International media reported every day about the contagion and dead toll. In July 2020, Science magazine Nature published a Japanese research about the mortality rate of Sars Cov2. The estimated rate of the confirmed cases was the 6,6%, lower than those of the first SARS-CoV and MERS, respectively 9.6% and 34.3%.

The fatality rate of the new coronavirus is so far related to people with previous chronical pathologies such as diabetes, hypertension, cancer, elders, and severe obesity. There is no evidence about the fatality of coronavirus during pregnancy, but only studies about possible complications. However, some of the deadly cases have been also related to apparently healthy people, such as a 16-year girl in France and a 33-year boy in Italy.

These data, unfortunately, are not enough to set a valid and factual mortality rate for Sars-Cov2. Hence, why global health organizations raised so many concerns about this disease? The concerns are closely linked to the fact Sars cov2 is still an unknown virus capable to go across several mutations.

These mutations are extremely variable and unpredictable and don’t allow us to understand which new symptoms and diseases and victims they will cause. If you consider that the virus is by now a pandemic with a high contagion rate, if a deadly mutation should occur, the risk Mankind gets exterminated is very high.

Indeed, the danger of the virus depends on its strains. Let’s go to the paragraph below to discover more about the matter.

 Sars – Cov2 Strains

As all replicant viruses, also Sars Covid 2 goes through genomic mutations for a simple motive of natural selection. These mutations generate further Sars Cov2 strains. It is always the Japanese research published on Nature that casts a light on the mutations occurred for this new coronavirus.

The study analyzed the genome of the virus in patients from Asia, North America, South America, Europe, Oceania, and Africa and detected 1234 mutations. The mutation frequency is lower in Asia (20.8%) than in other Countries (54-86%).

However, in August 2020, a research published by the University of Bologna detected six strains on 48,635 coronavirus genomes. The study reads: “The original one is the L strain, that appeared in Wuhan in December 2019. Its first mutation – the S strain – appeared at the beginning of 2020, while, since mid-January 2020, we have had strains V and G. Strain G is the most widespread: it mutated into strains GR and GH at the end of February 2020”.

“Strain G and its related strains GR and GH are by far the most widespread, representing 74% of all gene sequences we analysed“, says Federico Giorgi, researcher at the University of Bologna. “They present four mutations, two of which are able to change the sequence of the RNA polymerase and Spike proteins of the virus. This characteristic probably facilitates the spread of the virus“.

The same study affirms that Sars Cov 2 has a low variability, namely seven mutations for sample, while a common flu has a more than a double variability rate. This feature should make easier to find an effective vaccine and treatment. A few days ago, however, Italian virologist Andrea Crisanti revealed that the virus of the second wave of Sars-Cov2 is not the one of Wuhan, but another strain coming from Spain. Hence, why Sars Cov2 is considered more harmful than flu? The answer is below!

Why Sars Cov 2 Is So Dangerous?

Sars Cov2 is harmful because is protean. The term was used for the first time by Italian- American immunologist, Anthony Fauci. An infective agent is protean when its reactions vary from person to person. It is like other severe diseases. Just think several forms of cancer. The results are often variable: a patient survives and another one dies.

Without a valid reason. In our case, it is only Sars Cov2 which decides who must survive and who must die. It seems that the virus is playing the Russian roulette with us. Its results are still unpredictable. Furthermore, the danger of this virus is closely linked to the fact that there is a strong affinity with our enzyme ACE2. This affinity is 10 times higher than previous coronaviruses.

ACE2 is the enzyme that convert angiotensin2, one of the hormones controlling blood pressure. This enzyme is a receptor for Sars Cov2, it is the doorway the virus uses to enter our body. The ACE2 receptor is not only on lungs, but even in hearth, intestine, kidneys, and blood vessels. The framework, is hence, worrisome. That is why we must above all focus on prevention.

How to Prevent Sars Cov2?

Momentarily, we have only a certainty: Sars Cov 2 is transmitted by droplets and for this reason we must prevent them from reaching our respiratory system.

Hence, to prevent Sars Cov 2 infection, we must keep social distancing, avoid gatherings, and wear face masks outdoor when we can’t keep social distancing. Face masks, instead, must always be worn when we are in indoor places with other people. This way, we impede droplets enter our mouth, nose, eyes and lungs.

In addition to these simple protection rules, we must wash hands frequently and sanitize any contaminated surfaces.

About the face masks, many things have been said. At the beginning of pandemic, someone gained millions of dollars selling facial masks at outrageous prices.

A face mask which protects against sars cov2 is usually in layered cotton or polyester and has a very low price. As you can see, it is not so hard to defend us from the contagion. Moreover, face masks save not only our life, but, in case of infection, they reduce the viral load and prevent the most severe symptoms of the disease.

To prevent the infection, we should also wear protective glasses, besides face masks. Glasses, indeed, can prevent from getting infected by contaminated droplets which pass across our conjunctival membranes.

Obviously, those who work in close contact with covid patients must wear professional face masks, protective glasses and protective suits.

Sars Cov2 Treatment and Vaccine

Currently, an official and recognized treatment against the novel coronavirus does not exist. Doctors have treated patients with therapies used for other viral diseases. Nowadays, treatments aim to prevent the progression of the disease. Indeed, mild and medium forms of Sars Cov2 are treated with antiviral medications used to treat Ebola, such as Remdesivir.

More severe forms of Coronaviruss disease require treatment with mechanical ventilation, oxygen, and intensive care. In the most severe cases, patients have been even intubated and put belly down to get a better pulmonary ventilation.

It is better preventing the severe forms from appearing, because they are, sometimes, lethal and when they aren’t, they cause an awful, physical, and respiratory damage.

Weeks or months naked, intubated and belly down are the most horrible experiences that a human being may have in his lifetime. Often, the severity of Sars-COv2 is due to a reaction of our immune system that tries to combat the disease. This reaction is called “Cytokine storm”.

This immune response triggers the severe inflammation which can conduct many patients to intensive care. To prevent and soothe the inflammation, patients with Covid19 have been treated with a common anti-inflammatory known as Desametasone.

The medication, made of Cortisone, is sold in every pharmacy in the world and has the very affordable cost of $5. However, only doctors can assess the severity of Sars Cov2. Hence, if you feel symptoms, you must immediately ask for the help of your doctor, who, in turn, will set the most suitable treatment for you.

Another anti covid 19 treatment has been a monoclonal antibody previously used to treat rheumatoid arthritis: Tocilizumab. It was used for the first time in Italy, in March 2020 (Naples) during the first wave of the pandemic. However, currently, new clinical trials say this medication is not effective for all the Sars Cov2 cases. A new hope to defeat the disease is vaccine.

There are 145 anti covid vaccines which are being tested in the world, whose 8 in the third experimentation stage and 3 pending for the approval. But a new strain of the virus, like the one which is responsible of the second wave of Sars-Cov2, could make vaccine ineffective, because, as virologist Andrea Crisanti said on the Italian TV, the current vaccines are tested for the Chinese strain of coronavirus, which now does not exist anymore.

Moreover, all this increases the risk to get re-infected even after we have overcome a previous infection from Sars – Cov2.

With this framework, another hope for the anti covid treatment may be the so-called monoclonal antibodies. They would be a sort of synthetic vaccine obtained by the proteins isolated by patients recovered from Sars Cov2.

Monoclonal antibodies aim to attack the ACE2 receptor of our cells, blocking the protein of coronavirus on the surface. This study has been conducted by the University of Washington in collaboration with Sacco hospital in Milan.

Maybe Sars Cov 2 will disapper as happened for other viruses. Previous coronaviruses disappeared with no need to find a vaccine. But we don’t know when Sars Cov2 will disappear. We only know we must fight.

Conclusion

This matter about Sars Cov2 is very sensitive and subject to new discoveries and changes. For this reason, I’ll promptly modify or add further details as soon as new information will be released. Other news talked about Sars Cov 2 in wastewater.

Yes, traces of viral RNA have been found in wastewater in Europe at the beginning of the pandemic, but scientists talked about a potential risk, because they don’t know if the RNA of Coronavirus can infect us. Other news reported that people who have the blood zero group did not get infected, but after a few days, this news has turned to be fake. Only the already mentioned virologist Andrea Crisanti revealed there would be a couple of studies about this matter, but, currently, this medical research has not been confirmed.

We don’t even know how long Igg antibodies can protect us from a new contagion. As you can see, the things we don’t know are more than the ones we know and it is just this shortage of knowledge which makes Sars Cov2 a creepy threat for our life and our planet. Sars Cov2 is a collective and global problem by now.

We should feel more united and ready to protect each other instead of to deny the reality. Life is changed, we were not accustomed to all this, but it happened and we have the duty to face it! Nature gave us its ultimate message. However, if all this has been the result of a laboratory experiment, it would be the result of a devilish mind.

In short: we navigate in uncharted waters. The positive things are that the vaccination is carried out all over the world and that the true cause of this pandemic has been, finally, discovered. I reported this discovery in the bottom page of this post. If you have new, reliable information or experience about Sars Cov2, you can share them with a comment. Your contribution will be greatly appreciated.

References & Bibliography

  1. Nicoletta Scarpa, Donatella Sghedoni, Maria Rosa Valetto – COVID-19, la malattia da nuovo coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) – February 27, 2020 – PDF file – https://portale.fnomceo.it/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/dossier_coronavirus_def_27-02-2020-compresso.pdf
  2. ISS – COVID-19, molto probabile un ruolo per i pipistrelli, ma si cerca ancora l’ospite intermedio – February 12, 2020 – www.iss.it/primo-piano/-/asset_publisher/o4oGR9qmvUz9/content/covid-19-molto-probabile-un-ruolo-per-i-pipistrelli-ma-si-cerca-ancora-l-ospite-intermedio
  3. Presa Diretta – Sars-CoV-2: identikit di un killer – September, 2020 – www.raiplay.it/video/2020/09/Presa-Diretta—Sars-CoV-2-identikit-di-un-killer-466d5ae5-4f7c-4357-b124-aba6bb0d2c82.html
  4. David A. Relman – Opinion: To stop the next pandemic, we need to unravel the origins of COVID-19 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences – Nov 2020, 117 (47) 29246-29248; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2021133117 – http://www.pnas.org/content/117/47/29246.abstract.
  5. Simone Parisi, Richard Borrelli, Sabina Bianchi, Enrico Fusaro – Viral arthritis and COVID-19 – October 05, 2020 – www.thelancet.com/journals/lanrhe/article/PIIS2665-9913(20)30348-9/fulltext
  6. Valeria Cagno – SARS-CoV-2 cellular tropism – April, 2020 – www.researchgate.net/publication/340820755_SARS-CoV-2_cellular_tropism
  7. Yujiro Toyoshima, Kensaku Nemoto, Saki Matsumoto, Yusuke Nakamura & Kazuma Kiyotani – SARS-CoV-2 genomic variations associated with mortality rate of COVID-19 – Journal of Human Genetics – July 22, 2020 – www.nature.com/articles/s10038-020-0808-9
  8. University of Bologna – The six strains of SARS-CoV-2 – August 3, 2020 – www.unibo.it/en/notice-board/the-six-strains-of-sars-cov-2
  9. C. Silvestri and C. Stasi – Nuovo coronavirus: il punto sulle terapie in uso – www.ars.toscana.it/2-articoli/4306-nuovo-coronavirus-punto-vaccino-terapie-covid-19-sars-cov-2-trattamenti-sperimentazione-vaccini-cure.html
  10. RAI Italian Television – Vaccino anticovid: dopo lo stop di Astra Zeneca si punta sulla Pfizer – September 11, 2020 – www.rainews.it/dl/rainews/media/Vaccino-anticovid-dopo-lo-stop-di-Astra-Zeneca-si-punta-sulla-Pfizer-2f6477dc-6ff0-45b2-a26c-e9f30359cb90.html
  11. Fabio Di Todaro – Coronavirus, ACE2 a due facce: e se proteggesse donne e bambini? – April 29, 2020 – www.fondazioneveronesi.it/magazine/articoli/cardiologia/coronavirus-le-due-facce-di-ace2-e-se-proteggesse-donne-e-bambini.
  12. Dr. Andrea Crisanti – TV interview – November 9, 2020 – https://it.dplay.com/nove/accordi-e-disaccordi/stagione-6-episodio-9-andrea-crisanti/.

Author: Rosalba Mancuso
Rosalba Mancuso is a medical journalist, an international content writer credited at the University of Washington and a blogger born in Sicily. She is popular for founding four websites in English. On Modernhealthinfo.com, Rosalba writes well researched and detailed health articles backed by her experience as a medical writer for pharma companies and as a PR assistant for a clinical analysis laboratory. She is also a member of the AHCJ, American Association of Health Care Journalists and Center for Excellence in Health Journalism.

2 thoughts on “Sars-Cov-2, All the Things We Don’t Know

  1. Hi Rosalba, this piece about Covid is really informative and easy to understand. I found clues and explanations that TV and Magazines never have the courage to publish. Thank you so much for your great article!

    1. Hi Philip, thank you so much for appreciating this article. It is really encouraging for me hearing that readers love my information.
      Thanks again from the bottom of my heart.

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