SARS-Cov-2 and COVID-19 - What's the Link?
Sep 02 2020 Read 627 Times
While the terms SARS-Cov-2 and COVID-19 are often used interchangeably, there is actually a big difference between the two. Closely linked to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV), SARS-CoV-2 is a novel strain of coronavirus that causes the infectious disease known as COVID-19. Understanding the relationship between SARS-Cov-2 and COVID-19 is an important part of understanding the cellular foundations of both the virus and the disease, and the threat they pose to global health. Some of the most recent findings were published in the journal Science, with authors Nicholas J. Matheson and Paul J. Lehner offering more insight into how the virus infiltrates and attacks the body.
All viruses infect the human body by binding to cognate surface receptors and penetrating cells. The number of viral entry receptors has a direct impact on the speed at which a virus can spread. In the case of SARS-Cov-2, the virus enters cells using a receptor protein known as angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2). Like all coronaviruses, SARS-Cov-2 relies on spike proteins to bind to ACE2 and infect cells. There are currently seven known human coronaviruses that use this technique, including SARS-CoV which was first identified in China in 2002 and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS)-CoV].
One SARS-Cov-2 has infiltrated the body, it can rapidly attack areas that are rich in ACE2 receptors. The lining of the heart and blood vessels have high ACE2 receptor counts, as do alveoli. While microscopic in size, alveoli are tiny air sacs that absorb oxygen breathed into the lungs and essentially keep the body alive. When SARS-Cov-2 ravages ACE2 receptors the consequences can be lethal for bodies that aren’t strong enough to fight off the virus. One of the most common symptoms is inflammation, which can lead to pneumonia.
The art of naming a virus
While SARS-Cov-2 refers to the virus itself, COVID-19 is the name used to describe the disease caused by the virus. There are several reasons why COVID-19 was chosen as the official name for the disease, including attempts to minimise panic.
“From a risk communications perspective, using the name SARS can have unintended consequences in terms of creating unnecessary fear for some populations, especially in Asia which was worst affected by the SARS outbreak in 2003,” reads a statement issued by the WHO.
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