Friday, June 12, 2020

Ch 2. No defenders to help - Immunity to coronaviruses in context of COVID-19

Reading time: 1:39 minutes
Readability: Grade 8

In chapter 1, we discussed how coronavirus enters the lung cells. We saw how infected lung cells raise alarm and boost defenses (interferon response). The virus using its ability to block the interferon response, continues to multiply. While the virus infects and spreads, the immune system is gearing up for a confrontation. The battle lines drawn, preparations on going. The immune system must end the enemy with precise swift action, if does not, the outcome is bad. If it does attack the enemy but without precision, there is price to pay. For now, lets see what would be the outcome if we fail to check the virus.

What if there was no defense against infections or no immune system to keep us healthy?

The outcome for a virus infected cell if anti-virus defenses do not work is inevitable cell death. The virus does it with relentless repetition and efficiency. Virus uses the infected cell to make more viruses, controlling it, damaging it from within. The new viruses made, leave the cell to go and infect more cells. These actions of the virus ravage the cell to the point where the cell cannot carry out its own functions. In the end, after the virus has completely used the resources, the cell withers away. The dying cell bursts, releasing everything inside including remaining virus particles. This continues over and over, until there is overwhelming infection in the body.

Viral induced cell-death: a cycle of damage and death
In a weakened or no immune system, there is no barrier to overwhelming infection and death. Therefore, people with broken and weak immune system are at a tremendous risk of deadly infection. Who might these people be who are at increased risk?

People who are born with defective immune system, are especially at risk. These disorders called "Primary immune deficiency disorders" are inherent and inherited disorders. These rare devastating diseases can cause trivial infections to become deadly in these patients*. They are called primary because, the defect is in the immune system itself. A second group at risk, are those with secondary immune deficiency. This is due to another condition (or medication) suppressing immunity. Common causes are malnutrition, wasting diseases, medicines like cancer treatment (Chemo) or immune suppressants. Smoking, liver or kidney diseases, organ transplants also affect immune health increasing COVID-19 risk.

2 types of immune deficiencies

*a good resource is primaryimmune.org for further reading.

Next section: Ch 3. Meet your defense forces - immunity to coronaviruses in context of COVID-19
Previous section: Ch 1. A war within - Immunity to coronaviruses in context of COVID-19
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