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Home» Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Outbreak and advances of nanotechnology in fighting COVID-19

What is corona virus?

  • Coronaviruses are a type of virus. There are many different kinds, and some cause disease. A newly identified type has caused a recent outbreak of respiratory illness now called COVID-19.Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.

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COVID-19 symptoms include:

  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • COVID-19 can lead to severe respiratory problems, kidney failure or death.The best way to prevent and slow down transmission is by well informed about the COVID-19 virus, the disease it causes and how it spreads. Protect yourself and others from infection by washing your hands or using an alcohol based rub frequently and not touching your face. 
  • The COVID-19 virus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes, so it’s important that you also practice respiratory etiquette (for example, by coughing into a flexed elbow).COVID-19 has been detected in people all over the world, and is considered a pandemic. It appears that symptoms are showing up in people within 14 days of exposure to the virus.
  • At this time, there are no specific vaccines or treatments for COVID-19. However, there are many ongoing clinical trials evaluating potential treatments.

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Why are some viruses so deadly?

  • virusis a tiny infectious agent that reproduces inside the cells of living hosts. When infected, the host cell is forced to rapidly produce thousands of identical copies of the original virus. Unlike most living things, viruses do not have cells that divide; new viruses assemble in the infected host cell. But unlike simpler infectious agents like prions. They contain genes, which allow them to mutate and evolve.
  • Humans have been battling viruses since before our species had even evolved into its modern form. For some viral diseases, vaccines and antiviral drugs have allowed us to keep infections from spreading widely, and have helped sick people recover. For one disease - smallpox - we've been able to eradicate it, ridding the world of new cases.
  • But we're a long way from winning the fight against viruses. In recent decades, several viruses have jumped from animals to humans and triggered sizable outbreaks, claiming thousands of lives. The viral strain that drove the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak in West Africakills up to 90% of the people it infects, making it the most lethal member of the Ebola family.
  • But there are other viruses out there that are equally deadly, and some that are even deadlier. Some viruses, including the novel coronavirus currently driving outbreaksaround the globe, have lower fatality rates, but still pose a serious threat to public health as we don't yet have the means to combat them. 



What are viruses made of?

  •  Viruses are made of either two or three parts. All include genes. These genes contain the encoded biological information of the virus and are built from either DNA or RNA. All viruses are also covered with a protein coat to protect the genes.
  •  Some viruses may also have an envelope of fat like substance that covers the protein coat, and makes them vulnerable to soap. A virus with this "viral envelope" uses it—along with specific receptors to enter a new host cell. Viruses vary in shape from the simple helical and isosaedral to more complex structures. Viruses range in size from 20 to 300 nanometers; it would take 33,000 to 500,000 of them, side by side, to stretch to 1 centimeter (0.4 in).



How do viruses spread?


  • Viruses spread in many ways. Although many are very specific about which host species or tissue they attack, each species of virus relies on a particular method to copy itself. Plant viruses are often spread from plant to plant by insects and other organisms, known as vectors.


  • Some viruses of humans and other animals are spread by exposure to infected bodily fluids. Viruses such as influenza are spread through the air by droplets of moisture when people cough or sneeze. Viruses such as norovirus are transmitted by the faecal-oral route, which involves the contamination of hands, food and water. Rotavirus is often spread by direct contact with infected children. The human immunodeficiency virus, HIV, is transmitted by bodily fluids transferred during sex. Others, such as the dengue virus, are spread by blood sucking insect.




Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Outbreak and advances of nanotechnology in fighting COVID-19.

The novel coronavirus disease, labeled by the World Health Organization (WHO) as COVID-19, was first reported in Wuhan, China, on December 31, 2019. Compared to the previously identified coronaviruses such as the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), the fatality rate of COVID-19 is substantially lower but it is more transmissible, in so far as it has spread to over 199 countries, infected more than 663,000 people, and claimed over 30,000 lives to date (Worldometer, March 29). As one of the game-changers of the past decade, nanotechnology holds great promise in offering innovative solutions to a wide range of problems regarding the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of COVID-19, in which nanotechnologists undoubtedly play a key role and shoulder their social responsibility. This webpage covers the most recent advances of nanotechnology in fighting COVID-19.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that attack the upper and lower respiratory tracts in humans, causing a range of illnesses from the common cold to more serious, fatal forms. However, it is the third time in the 21st century that a coronavirus outbreak turns into a global health emergency. More than hundreds of coronaviruses have so far been identified, most of which are transmissible between animals such as pigs, camels, bats, and cats, but in some cases, a genetic mutation is all these viruses need to transmit to humans and cause never-before-seen diseases. To date, seven coronaviruses have been proved to cause human diseases, four of which are 229E, OC43, NL63, and HKU1, causing mild diseases, while the other three can be even lethal. The first is the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV), which emerged in late 2002 and disappeared by 2004; the second is the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), which emerged in 2012 and still circulates among camels; and the third is SARS-CoV-2 which causes COVID-19 – first reported in China in December 2019 – and according to many scientists, is leading the world toward the grips of a pandemic.

The virions of SARS-CoV-2 are in the form of spheres with an average diameter of 125 nm, with lipid-based viral envelopes and positive-sense single-stranded RNA genomes. Virus particles of SARS-CoV-2 have four types of structural proteins: spike (S), membrane (M), envelope (E), and nucleocapsid (N) proteins, among which the S protein has a crucial role in attaching the virus to its host’s cells and enabling it to enter the cells.

The symptoms of COVID-19 are typically similar to flu, and it seems to start with a fever, followed by a dry cough and fatigue, but a runny nose, sneezing, or sore throat have only been reported in 5% of the confirmed cases. After a week or so, it can lead to shortness of breath, with around 20% of the patients needing hospital treatment. In some patients, especially the elderly and those with chronic health conditions, the early symptoms can progress to pneumonia, with chest tightness, chest pain, and shortness of breath. There have also been cases with little to no symptoms, taking up to 14 days to appear after exposure to the virus, but even an asymptomatic person may be shedding the virus and making          others ill.

On the other hand, the rapidly increasing death tolls of COVID-19 have been a wake-up call for global health. Many researchers have recently turned their focus to this growing threat and a global effort is underway to halt its spread. Currently, there is no specific antiviral treatment available for COVID-19, but a wide range of pharmaceutical agents are being investigated. Meanwhile, among various fields of science and technology, nanotechnology has great potential to be of enormous help in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of COVID-19.

At the prevention stage, nanofiber-based facial respirators, along with nanotechnology-enabled highly effective antimicrobial and antiviral disinfectants, have been the first personal protective means that can prevent the spread of the virus; furthermore, extensive research is underway to develop a vaccine for COVID-19 based on different nanomaterials. In diagnostics, nanotechnology has shown considerable promise in designing sensors for developing quick-response COVID-19 tests. Last but not least, at the treatment phase, nanomedicines have been at the center of many researchers’ attention, some of which are currently being studied in clinical trials. Hence, nanotechnologists are carrying out their social responsibility to tackle the ongoing global health emergency.



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