Yes, COVID-19 has been declared as a pandemic by WHO. Nations around the globe have locked down the cities and isolated people who show symptoms of the infection. The constant spread and fatality of the coronavirus are making it one of the deadliest diseases that have affected humans in the past.
It is true that coronavirus is lethal and can damage the functions of the respiratory system and other body organs. However, according to an article by Dailymail (1), 95% of the fatalities were reported in people above 40+ years. Statistics published earlier showed that only around 1% of the fatal cases of coronavirus had no other previous health conditions (2).
However, it does not mean that younger generations or healthier people are not vulnerable. Experts claim that a more robust immune system, healthy body, and taking treatment in the early stages may help in reducing the complications and help in recovering.
How Exactly Does Coronavirus Infect Humans?
When the coronavirus patient coughs or sneezes, the virus comes out with their respiratory droplets that can travel up to 1m distance. It can circulate in the air and survive for about 3 hours and about 2-3 days on surfaces.
If a healthy person comes in contact with these infected air, the virus can enter their body as they breathe in. Touching the infected surfaces and then touching the face also lets the virus into the body. Once entered, they travel to the back of nasal passages and mucous membranes in the back of the throat.
How Does It Attack?
The new coronavirus has a spiked surface. The virus uses it to attach to the receptors in the cells. They also use these spikes to push their genetic material into the human cells. The virus then hijacks the cells, wherein it forces the human cells to produce proteins that help in multiplying and also keeps the immune system at bay. The new viruses produced inside the cell comes out of it by rupturing the cell membrane and even killing the cells.
It starts in the throat, where it replicates and damages the cells and tissues. The coronavirus symptoms can begin at this stage with dry cough or sore throat. These viruses multiply in large numbers and crawl down to the bronchial tubes, where it attacks it and reaches the lungs.
By this stage, the virus becomes active and attacks significant parts of the respiratory system. As the lungs are damaged, the person may experience difficulty breathing. Fever and tiredness are other symptoms that are associated with coronavirus.
Why Do Some People Recover Without Any Significant Complications?
As mentioned earlier, people with people without any health conditions and stronger immunity have better-coping abilities to recover and fight the symptoms of coronavirus. Besides, COVID-19 is a new strain of virus to which there is no medication. Patients are given supportive treatments to relieve the symptoms and fight the disease.
When a pathogen attacks the body, the immune system realizes the threat and starts its actions to kill and remove it from the body. The immune system is made of two types of defense mechanisms: innate and adaptive.
How Does the Immune System Fight the Virus or Other Pathogens?
Innate is trigger when the pathogen, like coronavirus, attacks the body for the first time. Once the immune system realizes attack, it triggers all the cells in its mechanism to kill the virus.
Innate immune system
The three common types of immune cells involved in this process are phagocytes, macrophages, and mast cells. Phagocytes circulate through the body and find the viruses, engulfs and then destroy them. Macrophages play a crucial role in recruiting the cells to fight off the pathogens. While mast cells help in defense by activating an inflammatory response in the affected area and also helping in healing that area.
Certain immune cells produce proteins that are toxic to viruses and can kill once they come in contact with it. Besides, these cells also work in destroying the surfaces or weakening the cells, which could be killed easily.
The person may also experience inflammation in the attacked area, which could bring the immune system to fight off the pathogens. Secreting excess mucus or phlegm and sweat are one of the defense mechanisms by which the immune system removes the viruses from the body. As you snort or cough it out, it takes out any viruses or dead cells that are in its path. Besides, the excess mucus may also reduce the inflammation, and sore throat caused due to coronavirus.
Once you recover from the attack, your body’s immune system becomes more powerful to fight the viruses. If you are attacked again by the same virus, then your immune system launches an adaptive immune mechanism alongside the innate system. The adaptive immune system works by learning from previous attacks and fighting the next time any such viruses attack the body.
Adaptive immune system
When the virus comes back and attacks the body, signals to the immune system, which can trigger both innate and adaptive immune mechanisms, B-cells and t-cells are two primary agents in the adaptive immune system. B-cells make Y-shaped proteins called antibodies that lock on the surface of viruses or other pathogens and signal the immune system to destroy it.
These cells attack the invaders that are outside of the cell. On the other hand, T-cells are involved in the activation of the immune system and fighting off the viruses. These cells destroy the infected cells and also enrich the immune response.
When your body’s immune system is fighting the virus, your body’s temperature may increase and have the symptoms of fever or body aches.
Why Do Some People Face Major Complications With Coronavirus?
Those who have fatal conditions of coronavirus known to have a compromised immunity system. When the coronavirus attacks, the weak immune system may fail to produce cells that can fight it. In such cases, the infection can progress rapidly as the immune system is not working effectively to curb it.
Here, the viral attack can deteriorate the functions of the lungs, which can make it harder for the lungs to circulate oxygen and remove oxygen. At this stage, the lungs are filled with vast amounts of pus, fluids, and dead cells, which can cause chronic respiratory illnesses.
Soon, the viruses can progress and attack bone marrow, bloodstream, heart, and other organs. Here, the person may require ventilation, and it can be fatal where ventilation may be of no use.
In some cases, the immune system may fail to attack or even recognize the virus that enters the body, which can kill the person in a matter of days.
It is pretty clear on why healthy, and younger people recover faster than older people or people with any health complications. The answer is a healthy immune system and getting proper treatment in the early stages.
Yes, coronavirus is dangerous. But, regulating your immune system with healthy lifestyle choices can play a significant role in helping you recover from coronavirus. Do not panic; your body is way too strong than the coronavirus.