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How Exactly Coronavirus Kills

Once compared to the simple flu, the coronavirus can be scarily deadly. Here's now.

Dr. Monika Stuczen knows about deadly viruses; she's a Medical Microbiologist, R&D and QC Laboratory Manager at the lab MWE. Alarmed by the rise in deaths worldwide, we asked her how exactly Covid-19, the coronavirus, can be fatal, and the answer sheds some light on the invisible "thief" waiting outside your door:

"Viruses—unlike bacteria or human cells—are unable to reproduce cells themselves," she says. "In order to do it, they need to infect our cells. If you can imagine thief breaking into your house, virus protein S is like a hand of this thief and ACE2 (a human cell membrane protein) receptor is like a handle of your house door. 

Covid-19 appears to be attacking two specific cells in the lungs called ciliated cells and goblet cells. Ciliated cells are cells covered in tiny hair-like projections known as cilia. Cilia wave in an upward direction and swipe up towards the throat any nasty material that gets stuck such as dust particles, bacteria or viruses. Goblet cells are responsible for mucus production to keep your lungs moist and healthy. Covid-19 attacks these cells using protein S on its surface. It enters the cell, replicates inside and kills it. Replicated viruses infect more and more cells. Damaged tissue falls into the lungs causing blockages—and what may lead to pneumonia. 

The patient's immune system tries to fight infection and, in many cases, it may 'overreact' by damaging healthy tissue. This excessive body response to infection can lead to inflammation in the lungs—that's what makes breathing even more difficult. When pneumonia develops virus starts to attack the air sacs in the blood vessels wrapped around alveoli—tiny air sacs of the lungs, which allow for rapid oxygen/carbon dioxide exchange. Damage of alveoli limits the capability of blood oxygenation causing acute respiratory distress syndrome what may lead to death."

This doesn't have to happen to you. To protect yourself—and those around you—from this deadly thief, don't miss these 18 Coronavirus Survival Secrets.

Monika Stuczen, MD
Dr. Monika Stuczen is R&D and QC Laboratory Manager at Medical Wire & Equipment Ltd. Read more