A Look at How the Virus that Causes COVID-19 Infects People

An endless amount of information is being thrown at the public right now in regards to COVID-19, a.k.a. “the coronavirus,” but, sadly, much of it seems to simply add up to nothing more than noise. Thankfully, there are some sources that are able to consolidate all of the data being flung around the internet into intelligible, bite-sized video summaries. Like this one from YouTube channel, Kurzgesagt, which breaks down how the virus that causes COVID-19 works, as well as what we can do as a world community to stop it.

For those unfamiliar, Kurzgesagt—which literally translates to “in a nutshell” from the original German word—is a channel dedicated to educating people on complex topics that range from genetic engineering to nuclear fallout scenarios to the creation of “stellar engines.” As with other major YouTubers, Kurzgesagt has churned out a video on COVID-19 in response to the pandemic. This one focuses, in large part, on how SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, manages to infect people and damage their health.

While the video covers some aspects of the pandemic that have already been harped on quite a bit—like the importance of hand washing and social distancing—the channel’s look at how exactly SARS-CoV-2 does such an unholy amount of damage to a person’s body, particularly their lungs, is refreshingly insightful.

A Look at How the Virus that Causes COVID-19 Infects People_1

The SARS-CoV-2 virus penetrating a healthy epithelial cell. Kurzgesagt 

Kurzgesagt’s COVID-19 explainer video shows how SARS-CoV-2 enters the body through openings in the face, and then makes its way into the intestine, spleen and/or lungs. The video goes on to illustrate how SARS-CoV-2 is able to connect to the membranes of epithelial cells, which Science Direct notes are cells “Specialized for absorption, secretion or to act as a barrier” between one’s “self” and “non-self.” Epithelial cells, in other words, line a body’s surfaces, including its skin, the inside of its gut, its ducts, etc.

Once SARS-CoV-2 has penetrated the epithelial cells lining the lungs, it then gets to work making them reproduce copies of itself, before it finally gives the “instruction” for the host cells to collapse and die. Furthermore, the video explains how SARS-CoV-2 encourages the body to damage itself with an overreactive immune response; it’s able to pull this off by infecting immune cells themselves, and putting them into a “fighting frenzy.” This frenzy not only wastes a host’s immune cells, but also damages their healthy cells.

Because SARS-CoV-2 attacks the epithelial cells lining the lungs, it can lead to serious respiratory illnesses, which can permanently damage a person’s ability to breathe properly, or worse. This is exactly why it’s so important for hospitals around the world to make sure they have ventilators, which are, in many places, in short supply. Luckily, people are banding together to come up with solutions for that problem, as well as many others posed by COVID-19. Because just like immune cells, people can work together to stop the spread of this pandemic. Hopefully they don’t mistakenly attack each other too much in the process.

What do you think about this Kurzgesagt video covering COVID-19 and the virus that causes it? Are you more enlightened now than ever on this topic, or is this just more noise? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Images: Kurzgesagt 

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