How’s everyone doing? It’s Friday and time to stay at home. I have got a bunch of reviews that I need range time for but our current state of lockdown brought that to a screeching halt. But does it mean that I need to see a therapist? Absolutely not! Why the hell should I pay $150 / hr. to some nub who studied psychology so they could understand themselves when I can shoot the shit for free. Remember that a shoot the shit is a social interaction via Skype or Zoom during which any topic can be discussed, participants don’t need to know anything about the topic, they are free to make any unsupported comment, use uncensured profanity, insult anyone the wish or change the subject altogether. So, let’s get started.
What I thought I’d do for this Friday’s shoot the shit is talk about viruses in general and then use those concepts applying them to the COVID 19, so you can parse all of the information that you are being presented by the media. I’ll start by presenting a couple of executive cartoons to describe how a virus infects the body, how it replicates and how a healthy immune system responds. So let’s get started.
A virus can enter the human body in any number of ways, the blood and other body fluids, ingested or respiration. Unlike a bacteria, a virus is specific to a host type. For example, COVID 19 attacks the respiratory system and not the liver. In the diagram below, you see that the virus spike is terminated in a shape that matches the shape of the host cell receptor. In reality those shapes are a series of proteins and amino acids that are compatible. The host cell receptor is what facilitates the viral infection. In the COVID 19 virus case that host cell receptor is referred to as the ACE2.
Once the virus interacts with the host cell, the virus fuses with the host cell membrane and using the host cell receptor transfers its rna into the host cell taking control of the host cell’s protein production mechanism. In order to fight the virus two things need to happen. There needs to be a mechanism that blocks the receptor and blocks the viral spike tip. This is normally accomplished by the body producing the appropriate antibody response or via some therapeutic intervention that accomplishes the same thing. Treating the virus with medication has its problems; in that, at the same time it attacks the virus the meds may also attack the host cell because the biochemical composition of the two are similar. So proper dosing is very important and a medical awareness and sensitivity to side effects is very important; noting that side effects may take weeks or months to surface.
When the body detects a viral infection, a healthy immune system responds with an aggressive antibody response. In COVID 19 we are concerned with two antibody types IgM and IgG. The picture below shows the structures of these antibodies.
The IgM antibodies are produced upon initial infection; they bond to the virus and host cell receptors to stop replication. This is the antibody that the current antibody tests you’ve been hearing about look for, in order to see if the individual has been infected. The IgM antibody stays with you for 4 to 5 weeks. After that period you’ll start seeing IgG antibodies in the blood stream. Remember that IgM and IgG are specific to the COVID 19 virus. If you have any one of those two antibodies in your system, you have been exposed to COVID 19 and are potentially immune (the jury is still out on that but it’s reasonable to assume). The IgE for example is specific to an allergen. You ate peanuts and you’re allergic so the immune system generates IgE antibodies. To summarize, the presence of IgM and IgG antibodies is a clear indication that you have been exposed to the COVID 19 virus.
If the victim’s immune system is compromised, then it may not produce the aggressive immune response that the body needs to neutralize the virus. Those individuals will generally become very ill and possibly succumb to the virus. There are a couple of ways currently being evaluated to deal with that situation; the most promising appears to be the Soluble Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2. I’ll explain.
A few paragraphs back, I mentioned the ACE2 receptor – ACE2 is shorthand for Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2. What Soluble ACE2 does, is act as a “dietary supplement” for a weakened immune system. The Soluble ACE2 is compatible with the virus’ amino acid so it binds with the virus’ spike preventing the virus from binding to the host cell and stopping replication. This is a very interesting therapy with tremendous potential.
Injecting someone else’s antibodies into a patient to fight the virus is effective, but has some down side in that the recipient’s immune system could reject the foreign antibody. This is generally a mild rejection so it’s nothing like the massive rejection of say an organ transplant.
The only solid and reliable way to deal with a virus is through a vaccine but until that happens social isolation is 100% effective and 100% safe. Keep in mind that developing vaccines and therapies is complex work and recognize that most of the media has no idea of what they’re talking about. So, take it with a grain of salt, it’s not the President’s fault or his administration. Follow CDC guidelines and you’ll be o.k.
This should help you understand some of the issues being discussed.
Hope you’ve enjoyed the topic. Be happy, be healthy and don’t stress out. On the count of 3 switch all sweat pumps into low speed.