About COVID-19 : Interview with Dr. Bharatmani Pokhrel

This is an interview prepared by Our Medical researcher Mrs.Anjana Shrestha with Microbiologist Prof.Dr. Bharatmani Pokhrel. Mr. Pokhrel is also associated with TU, Institute of Medical Sciences, Maharajgunj and NIST college

Q1. Being the pioneer Microbiologist and Scientist, Please let the public know what the Covid-19 is?
Corona Virus disease (Covid-19) is a novel virus that belongs to the family Corona viridal of the viral population. It is one of the viruses which has discovered in 2002 as Severe Acute Respiratory Traut Syndrome (SARS) and another in 2012 as Middle East Acute Respiratory Traut Syndrome (MERS). However, coming in 2019, the interim name is given as COVIS-19 which was reported in Wuhan China in December 2019 which is causing a pandemic. This is a single-stranded RNA positive sense virus, almost spherical, having helical nucleocapsid, bilayer membrane with envelope, which is composed of a membrane protein Haemagglutnin esterase. It has club-shaped spikes originated from the envelope. The terminal portion od spikes also are known as peplomere are rich in glycoprotein look like a crown. The receptor for these crown-shaped peplomere is Angiotension Converting Enzyme-2 (ACE-2), present on the surface of Type 2 pneumocytes in the lungs. The virus is believed to be transmitted from bat to human with intermediate host Pengulin. This virus has 96% genetic similarities with SARS which occurred in 2002. Currently, the International Society of Virologist has given the name COVID-2 believing that this is a mutation of SARS.
In brief, once the virus enters through droplet infection between man to man in a maximum distance 1-2meters will reach to lungs through the respiratory tract. Since pneumocytes contain ACE-2 in its surface will bind it via crown-shaped peplomere. The surfactant which is covering the lungs also helps to colonize the virus. Once virus is internalized it will reach to Golgi apparatus through messenger RNA and replicate there. As many virus particles replicates, process of exocytosis will take place. After this, these damaged alveoli causes an inflammatory response, as a result IL-1, IL-6, TNF alfa are secreted which lead accumulation of fluid into pneumocytes resulting in consolidation of lungs as well as accumulation of fluid between alveoli( Interstitial fluid) resulting Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) and pneumonia. 80% sufferer will recover whereas 20% may develop complication which requires Artificial supplement of Oxygen and Ventilator. Out of which approximately 3%may dies. People with HTN, diabetes, aged population, immunosuppressant disease, and therapy are more vulnerable.
Q.2 What might be the initial and late signs and symptoms. How this disease is transmitted?
Early Sign and Symptoms are
Fever >1004F
Dry Cough
Dyspnea
Malaise
Headache
Bodyache
Late Sign and Symptoms: Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) and Pneumonia
Transmission: Principally through droplet infection, the virus also sheds in urine and stool
Q3. Why cannot we kill the virus?
The virus is sensitive to acid, ether, chloroform, soap and water, detergent, alcohol, sodium hypochloride, chlorine.
Unfortunately, we do not have any molecules to destroy this virus in vivo. It is claimed that Antimalarial drug, Anti-retroviral compound, Anti Ebola drug could be used. But it is not proved.
Q4. Why it is not affecting Nepali people? Are we immune enough to fight against it?
So far, there are no indigenous cases in Nepal. Preventive measures currently being used are very effective as instructed by Govt of Nepal. On the other hand, regarding genetic issues might be there. However, we need to conduct research to find whether the particular ethnic group is immune or susceptible and also to determine immunity power.
Q5. Why do you suggest the public to prevent from this deadly disease caused by SARS-Cov-2 Virus?
Handwashing with soap and water, using alcohol based sanitizer, physical separation, Stop social gathering, Social distancing.
Maintain physical hygiene, stop touching nose, mouth, eyes with hands.
Proper disposal of used masks, tissue paper.
Use of possible PPE (masks, gloves)
People must cover mouth and nose while sneezing and coughing
SOAP, WATER AND COMMON SENSE
Q6. What is unfavorable condition for viral growth?
It is said that the atmosphere above 30C temperature is not favorable. Virus will be killed at 56C.
Q7. Is not there any laboratory to diagnose any viral disease in Nepal?
There are laboratories to diagnose viral disease, but NOT all type of Viral Disease.
Currently, Govt has established laboratories in all provinces of Nepal to diagnose Cov-2 Virus. National Public Health Laboratory, Kathmandu (NPHL) is leading as reference laboratory in Nepal.
Q8. Even the so-called powerful and most scientifically developed countries cannot control its spread and thousands of their citizens are killing by this virus. Is this the way nature takes revenge from a human?
It needs research to answer this question.
Q9. If we analyze the incidence, almost all of the poor countries has very low incidence of this virus, what do you think about it? What may be possible reason that this virus affects the citizens of rich countries?
In my opinion virus equally affects all people. It dosesnot matter whether the person belongs to developed or underdeveloped country, rich or poor. However, the fact is the person with other comorbid disease like HTN, diabetes, immunosuppressant disease gets affected more.
We are aware of the fact that the virus seems to be originated from Wuhan China which is a developed country. People from developed country like to travel for their holiday. As per current scenario Italy (currently USA) is most infected country and popular holiday destination. We can relate the fact through mode of transmission, more people means more transmission. In addition to that we should not forget that the old aged population in developed country is much more than underdeveloped countries.
However, may be people of underdeveloped countries are more immune compared to people of developed countries. Since, varieties of disease, microbes have been prevalent in this region.
Q10. Now the entire world is fearing about the highly contagious and deadly virus. How such a virus is borne, although it is often classified as border line organism, neither living or nonliving?
New virus comes from old virus through mutation as per Charles Drawin’s theory.
Q11. Last but not the least, give some tips to the young scientist that where they can find the possible solution of this common problem of every humankind this time.
Production of vaccine, always take universal precautions to save ourselves.

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