SURPRISING FACTS ABOUT COVID-19
Over eleven hundred deaths from Covid-19 have happened in Wisconsin. This is more than terrible! This number represents a huge loss to all the families who have lost parents, children, relatives and friends. Each person’s life touches dozens of others.
We need to know more than the numbers. We need to know why this disease is so dangerous and horrid for us and the whole world.
Surprisingly, Astronomy Magazine (September 2020) supplies answers in an article by Dr. Jeff Hester, astrophysicist. Hester writes in his article, “Learning the Hard Way,” about the Covid-19 illness instead of his usual articles about the universe.
The following is a summary of his science-based concern:
- Nobody on the earth is immune to the virus. Each of us is vulnerable.
- The virus attacks lung cells which produce surfactants that make tissues pliable instead of rigid.
- Hester says: “When white blood cells start showing up to clean up destroyed cells, they signal that there is a battle afoot by releasing small proteins called cytokines. In response, nearby blood vessels swell and release fluid into their surroundings, causing inflammation.
- Hester continues: “Inflammation can help with infection, but in this case, it backfires. All of the fluid dilutes surfactants even more, further robbing the lungs of their elasticity. Increased pressure causes the tiny air sacks called alveoli to collapse and also fill with fluid.”
- In Dr. Hester’s words: “Cytokines do more than trigger inflammation. High levels of cytokines activate additional white blood cells, which release more cytokines, which activate more white blood cells, and so on. As the resulting cytokine storm rages on, chemicals released by white blood cells to fight the virus destroy healthy tissue instead. The lungs become useless. Each breath takes more and more work, but brings in less and less oxygen. The patient is suffocating.”
The deadly dynamics of the Covid-19 disease are difficult to understand but must be understood as well as possible for us to appreciate the need to:
- Wear masks in public
- Keep a distance of six feet from others
- Keep as isolated as possible
- Wash hands often
These precautions are not burdensome when one considers that they can save our lives as well as other lives.
Dr. Hester concludes his article, “At the moment, the reality that can’t be tweeted away is spelled C-O-V-I-D.”