Health: The Virus Hijacks the Alarm System

The Story:

New research by scientists at the Weizmann Institute, in Israel, sheds light into how the Covid-19 virus manages to strike its victims so quickly and, often, so disastrously.


Though attention has naturally centered on the immediately practical issues concerning the vaccine and treatments, there is still a good deal not well understood about the transmission and course of this disease. One key point is that infected persons often continue to feel well (asymptotic) for days. Then, when symptoms do strike, that can happen all at once, with a drastic deterioration in condition.

Normally, when the human body is infected, the first cells attacked release certain proteins that serve as alarms: they trigger an immune response. The immune response in turn creates much of that early symptomology. But the Covid virus interferes on a cell-by-cell level, with the release of those proteins.

The lead author on the new paper is Noam Stern-Ginossar, of the Weizmann Institute’s Molecular Genetics Department.  It details three distinct paths by which the virus interferes with the sending of an alarm, which in turn allows for that oblivious period of asymptotic bliss.

In Pill Form:

“We now understand on a molecular level why we’re not mounting efficient anti-viral response, and knowing this may be able to better target therapeutics,” Stern-Ginossat told The Times of Israel.

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