Six months ago, the world began to learn of the appearance of the new Sars-CoV-2 coronavirus in Wuhan (China), a city of 11 million inhabitants. This virus was directly linked to the already known Sars, which caused the murder of 800 people in 2003.
Few realized at the time that this new causative agent of the disease Covid-19 was the trigger for the worst public health crisis in over 100 years and that to date, having become a pandemic, it has affected more than half a million people. it claimed the lives and endangered the health of at least 10 million people worldwide.
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And although the virus has renewed research processes during this period in an attempt to understand the virulent dynamics, its merchandise and possible treatments, there are still unanswered questions that concern science and without questioning the accumulated knowledge that aims the goal. . Get rid of your negative merchandise ASAP.
The scientific journal Nature has just published an article in which it collects and analyzes the most important questions about Sars-CoV-2 for which researchers still have no answers.
Why do people react differently to the virus?
Statistics show that those affected by Covid-19 show marked differences in the commodity of the disease. In fact, some never develop symptoms, while others, despite appearing healthy, develop severe pneumonia and even die.
According to Kari Stephansson, chief director of DeCODE Genetics in Iceland, the dramatic differences could be due to variations determined by human genes that have not been analyzed in depth because there is not enough research available yet. However, there are patterns showing, for example, how in Italy those who developed severe respiratory failure were more likely to carry one or two specific genetic variants compared to those who did not have the disease. .
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One of these variants would be found in the genome that determines the type of ABO strain. In any case, it should be clarified that it is not the red rock that decides the degree of transcendence or not, but rather the general characteristics of people belonging to certain blood groups.
The other reform would be close to several genes which code for a protein which interacts with the receptor which facilitates the entry of the virus into cells; and others that determine the immune response against pathogens, adds Stephansson in the journal Nature.
This subject is still being studied today through whole genome research in healthy people and with severe courses.
Is there immunity to coronavirus?
Answering this question has put the accelerator on all immunology research groups, because the duration of the defense that the virus leaves in the body is not only crucial for the progression of the pandemic, but also for the eventual development of treatments or vaccines.
Studies have shown that levels of antibodies against Sars-CoV-2 remain high for a few weeks after infection, but then begin to decline. Close to point out that these defenses can remain elevated longer in people who have suffered from serious illnesses. “The more virus there is, the longer the antibodies last,” explains immunologist George Kassiotis of the Francis Crick Institute in London in Nature of a pattern seen in other viral infections such as SARS.
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In these cases, it has been shown that most people lose their antibodies in the first years, but those with the most severe forms retain them even after 12 years. And although researchers do not yet know the specific immune responses against Sars-CoV-2, immunity is thought to go beyond antibodies and is even mediated by cells (T lymphocytes), important for defense against long term, although they do not exist. Again. gives a clear and measurable score.
Has the new corona virus changed in worrying ways?
All viruses mutate when they infect humans, and Sars-CoV-2 is no exception. In fact, molecular researchers have tracked these mutations to track the global spread of the virus, but are even looking for major structural changes that could produce more aggressive or transmissible strains.
David Robertson, a computational biologist at the University of Glasgow, told this magazine that since this is a new virus, it is important to know if it becomes more dangerous. All because these changes could reduce the suitability of vaccines, which would complicate the situation.
Most of the mutations found are so far emotionless, so researchers are looking for changes in a different direction. With this in mind, Nature clarifies that the variations found in certain locations and originally classified as more lethal lack academic consistency.
How would the vaccine work?
According to Nature, effective vaccines may be the only way out of the pandemic. Currently, 200 projects are underway and 20 are already in clinical trials.
There is already animal and human data on these early stages suggesting that vaccines might be effective in preventing lung infections, but not elsewhere. Indeed, according to data in monkeys, the Oxford University vaccine could prevent the progression of severe forms, but not the spread of the virus.
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And although human data is sparse and some have found that they promote the formation of potent antibodies, it is unclear whether they are high enough to stop new infections or if they persist over time.
The truth is that, according to Dave OconCon, a virologist at the University of Wisconsin, quoted by Nature, inexpensive clinical vaccines could be available within 12 to 18 months, which would require gradual relief.
What is the origin of the virus?
Nature notes that most researchers agree that Sars-CoV-2 may be related to bats, particularly the horseshoe species, which harbors two coronaviruses closely related to this new virus: RATG-13 and RmYM02, which share the sequence at 93%.
The Journal clarifies that after analyzing 1,200 coronaviruses in bats from China, it is suspected that their origin is probably in bats from Yunnan province, but not in other countries.
Researchers have even isolated coronaviruses from Malayan pangolins, and these share 92% of their genome with Sars-CoV-2, although they have not been shown to jump from these animals to humans.
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Nature insists that to clearly trace the transition from animal to human, it is necessary to find a species that harbors a genetic readout that shares more than 99% of the Sars-CoV-2 genome, which does not is currently not considered lightweight.
Zhang Zhigang, an evolutionary bacteriologist at Yunnan University, says research based on this premise has eliminated viruses from domestic and wild animals throughout the Southeast. This remains another enigma surrounding the corona virus.
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