COVID-19: Outbreaks and potential solutions

Manlio Fusciello | Huhti 2020 | Onkologia ja Hematologia |

Manlio Fusciello
M.Sc., PhD student
Laboratory of Immunovirotherapy
Division of Pharmaceutical Biosciences
& Drug Research Program,
Faculty of Pharmacy,
University of Helsinki

The latest global coronavirus outbreak that the entire planet has been experiencing since the end of last year has radically changed our view of the world and has affected people’s everyday lives.Acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), commonly known as COVID-19, has led to restrictions, quarantines, curfews and many other limitations mainly on social activities and personal interactions because the medical and scientific community has so far been unable to eradicate it. It seems the virus originated from bats and was transmitted to humans through unknown intermediary animals in a street market in Wuhan, Hubei province, China in December 2019. Since that time, this coronavirus has shown the world how easily a spillover event might happen and how quickly a virus can spread throughout the world, affecting society and having a major impact on global healthcare and the economy. Latest outbreaks Outbreaks are not new to us and have had major impacts on society in the past. Viruses have evolved to coexist with the host they preferentially infect, meaning that killing the host is always an unwanted side effect. Normally, a virus binds to the cell surface through an interaction with a specific receptor, enters and uses the cellular machinery to self replicate and produce more copies of itself. The new viral copies cause the cell to burst and eventually infect cells located nearby. In fact, the present and past outbreaks such as influenza, MERS and SARS are classified as spillover phenomena, where a virus originally infecting an animal species can “jump” and evolve to infect humans. Being the new host in a new environment, before the virus is able to adapt to the new individual, its mechanism of replication might create problems for the host’s physiological functions. Development of a vaccine While for the acute phase of the disease,...