As more and more researches are being conducted on coronavirus, people are becoming more aware of the ramifications of the virus. Presumed to be rather an innocuous virus due to its relatively low mortality rate initially, it is anything but.
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Complications of Coronavirus
Coronavirus is a rather complicated virus, that affects all the major organs in the body.
While it primarily attacks the respiratory system, however, it spreads everywhere in the body soon after, leading to multi-organ failure in many cases.
Its effects on the central nervous system and peripheral nervous system range from mild to severe; the former including the loss in sense of taste and smell, and the latter includes intracranial infections, Guillain-Barre syndrome, etc.
It is also one of the most blood clotting diseases, therefore poses the risk of stroke as well. It also leads to secondary bacterial infections, that further jeopardize the health of the patient. Moreover, the impact of the virus on the kidneys has been critical too.
However, the long list ailments that this virus causes is not complete. If anything, a new day brings new revelations about the virus, the latest being the rather dire impacts of coronavirus on immunity.
Coronavirus and the immune system
Just as H.I.V. led to the immune system going haywire, likewise has been the impact of coronavirus. It causes such grave damage to the cells of the immune system. Unfortunately, there is still a dearth of research into the precise and potential impacts of coronavirus on immunity due to the novelty of the disease.
Furthermore, there is still a lack of understanding as to whether the complications that result from the disease are because of the virus, or the response of the body to the virus or a combination of both. This has significance as the course of treatment is dependent on it. As more and more researches are coming forth, this predicament is getting closer to resolution.
Existing research on the immune system and coronavirus
The research conducted in Pennsylvania, USA showed that there was a heightened immune response in severely ill patients, as opposed to those suffering from the milder forms of the disease. There was also a spike in the levels of neutrophils and eosinophils. However, the number of T-cells was lower in the severely ill patients due to their loss on account of the immune response against COVID-19.
Other similar trends that alluded to many aberrations in the immune responses of the severely ill patients were also observed, therefore testifying to the serious impacts of coronavirus on immunity.
Likewise, other researches have reported similar trends with regards to the depletion and damage sustained by the T-cells in certain people suffering from coronavirus. However, common denominators in all these researches are that the immune system has suffered in all critically ill patients.
Why are T-cells so important?
The immune system is a composite of many different types of cells, one being the T-cells. A type of white blood cells, these are important in the body to fight the cancer-causing cells and protect the body against the attacks by bacteria and viruses. These are produced in the bone marrow but mature in the thymus gland.
T-cells play a significant role in initiating an immune response against viral infections. It not only destroys the viruses but ushers’ other cells for help as well. Produced in a moderate amount, these cells are able to work efficiently, and effectively ward off danger to the body.
However, trouble looms when the amount produced goes haywire.
T-Cells and Coronavirus
One of the impacts of coronavirus observed on the immunity was that it made the system go into overdrive. A perpetual spike in the IP10 levels –molecules responsible for directing T-cells to the problem area –was observed in the patients.
This is significant as it causes the body to summon the T-cells almost everywhere in it, randomly. This then leads to the reserves of the cells running out, and since the thymus gland does not work well in adults over 40, the body runs dangerous low on these life-saving cells.
However, as children still have a developing thymus gland, the body is still able to produce plenty of cells. This is perhaps one of the reasons why coronavirus has not been especially dangerous for in the children.
Treatment options available
One school of thought believed in using immunosuppressant drugs to treat coronavirus, which is the common modus operandi in such cases of the overdriven immune system. They target the molecule IL-6, blocking its functioning to regulate the immune response. However, this treatment option is ineffective against coronavirus.
The most feasible treatment option thus is by using a cocktail of anti-viral pills, which is how H.I.V is treated too. It makes sense since the mechanism of both the viruses is similar. Timely anti-viral usage is also important as a lag in drug intake could mean that already many of the T-cells have been damaged, and the body’s reserves depleted.
This treatment option is even more profound considering that there is no vaccine for the drug available, and none in sight. Vaccine development can further take many months, and even years, therefore cannot be relied on solely. Anti-viral drugs are the ray of sunshine until better solutions appear.