by Anthony J. Ciani
With symptoms ranging from a gasping death to nothing at all, one has to wonder whether COVID-19 is a super flu or a mild cold. Have we ruined our economy over nothing or saved millions of people from death? If COVID-19 is a mild cold, how did we mistake it for a super flu?
There are over 200 different viruses that cause the common cold. The most common are rhinoviruses, coronaviruses, adenoviruses, and respiratory syncytial viruses. The average person gets one to three colds per year, and due to the large variety of viruses responsible, there is no vaccine. Influenza is another common respiratory virus. Cold or flu, respiratory viruses present similar symptoms and follow the same life cycle. Launched into the environment from their current host, they might survive long enough to find another. Typically by inhalation, they might make their way to the mucosa. They might make it past the wall of mucus to the underlying cells, where they might manage to infect one. Irritated by the intruder, the cells send an alarm and macrophages soon begin the equivalent of carpet bombing. The release of cytotoxic chemicals causes tissue damage and even more irritation. The mucosa releases more mucus, filling the sinuses and dripping into the lungs. Cilia move mucus out of the lungs up to the throat, where most of it makes its way to the stomach, but coughing is also an option, launching virus into the environment.