What is Coronavirus and Why Is It Dangerous for China and the U.S.?

Andrew Tran
Perspectives Editor

Photo Caption: Chinese Medical Officials Spraying Antiseptic Solution Credit: https://apnews.com/91a4b52778f1d0baeb1ef6856287671d

There has been national coverage about a new strain of virus spreading throughout the city of Wuhan, China. Over this weekend, about 450 infected patients have been reported from the National Health Commission and the commission has confirmed at least 6 people have died from the virus. One was a 61-year-old and another was an 89-year-old. As of January 20th, scientists in China have discovered that the virus can transfer from human-to-human contact and other scientists have identified the virus as a coronavirus. A coronavirus is a large group of viruses can cause illnesses as minor as a cold, or as serious as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), according to the World Health Organization.

They belong to a family of viruses known as Coronaviridae and look like spiked rings under an electron microscope. The Coronaviruses contain a strand of RNA within their envelope and cannot reproduce without getting inside living cells and hijacking the system found within. The spikes on their viral envelope help them bind to cells, which gives them a way in. It’s like blasting a door open with C4. Once inside, they turn the cell into a virus factory, using its molecular conveyor belt to produce more viruses which are then shipped out. The virus progeny infects another cell and the cycle starts anew.

This disruption has been linked to a “Hua Nan Seafood Wholesale Market”, a large seafood and animal market in the city and the number of people continues to rise even though no one has been exposed this market. Due to the outbreak, preventative measures are being developed to prevent the spread of this virus. The World Health Organization said that it will convene an Emergency Committee on the virus in Geneva, Switzerland to discuss if the severity of the virus will rise to a public health emergency. Meanwhile, the CDC has deployed 100 workers to passengers at the three major airport entries in the US: New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

The U.S. is at risk of this coronavirus because there has been a confirmed report of someone infected with the virus. A man in Washington state has been diagnosed with this virus after traveling to Wuhan and returning back from the city. The CDC has commented that the virus was not as easily transmitted as common flu or measles which means that the strain of virus is much stronger. The U.S. is not the only place that has been affected by the virus. Thailand has two infected patients while Japan has one. South Korea confirmed 1 case and Australia has 1 suspected person who has been infected.

Even though the U.S. has not been impacted largely by this virus, its people need to stay healthy and avoid contracting the illness. If the severity of this virus is accurate, then antibiotics will not have an effect on the virus since bacteria can easily evolve and grow immune to health treatments. As of now, the U.S. should not panic due to the one confirmed infected patient; however, everyone should take precautions to stay healthy and make it through this tumultuous period.