Written by Prof. Adrian Esterman
Many people use the internet and social media to obtain their information about COVID-19, often just called coronavirus. Some of it is correct, much of it is not. As an epidemiologist with over 40 years of experience including seven years working for the World Health Organization, I will try and sort out what we currently know. However, this is a changing feast with new publications every day on all aspects of COVID-19.
Viruses are parasitic in that unlike bacteria, they can only reproduce inside a host cell, whereas bacteria can reproduce anywhere. However, virus particles can survive on surfaces. Viruses can infect all species of animals, and can even infect bacteria. All viruses consist of a core of either RNA or DNA, surround by a fatty coat. RNA viruses cause diseases like influenza, ebola, hepatitis, measles, and HIV. They mutate more easily than DNA-based viruses.
Viruses are nearly always much smaller than bacteria. For example, the bacteria that causes smallpox are about 300 nanometers in diameter, compared to 120 nanometers for coronavirus. To put that in perspective, that makes a coronavirus particle about one 2,000th the size of a grain of salt.
Original publication 20 March, 2020
Posted on NatCorn Today
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