Every particle of the coronavirus from infected people around the world could fit inside a can of soda with room to spare. (Image Credit: CDC)
Viruses are observed under advanced microscopes, but what about COVID-19’s total volume? Christian Yates, a senior lecturer in mathematical biology at the University of Bath in the UK, calculated the coronavirus’s total volume and concluded that every particle could fit inside a can of soda.
By using the estimated amount of people infected per day around the world (3 million), he calculated that every COVID-19 particle would have a volume of 160 milliliters. The total amount could easily fit in a 335-milliliter soda can with extra room to spare. Check out how he came with the calculations in this video!
"It’s astonishing to think that all the trouble, the disruption, the hardship, and the loss of life that has resulted over the last year could constitute just a few mouthfuls of what would undoubtedly be the worst beverage in history," Yates wrote. The virus can be contained if humans practice social distancing rules and wear masks.
More alarmingly, the E484K mutation, which was discovered in the UK variant, could potentially “escape” from the approved COVID vaccines. It was also found in the South African variant (B1351) and the Brazilian variant (P1). It takes a while for the coronavirus to mutate. Its genome accumulates two single-letter mutations per month. At the start of the pandemic, few scientists were concerned about the virus mutating into a more dangerous variant. In November 2020, they discovered the first “variant of concern”, which caused the huge increase of cases in south-east England and London.
Scientists are more interested in mutations in the virus’s receptor-binding domain (RBD). This part of the virus locks on the host’s cells, initiating infection. Mutations occurring in the RBD could cause the virus to bind more tightly to cells, increasing rates of infection.These mutations could also enable a virus to evade antibodies produced by vaccinations.
E484K’s name comes from the position in the RNA string that it occurs (484). ‘E’ refers to the amino acid that was present at this location (glutamic acid). ‘K’ refers to the amino acid that is now at this location (lysine). The E484K mutation prevents the antibodies from binding to this area. Scientists studied antibodies from eight people who recovered from COVID. Their goal was to determine how the antibodies could neutralize the virus.
Samples were collected from three individuals, which showed that the antibodies were ineffective against the mutated E484K virus. Neutralization was reduced by up to 90%. In another study, researchers observed the effect of a range of mutations on the antibodies’ ability to neutralize the virus. They discovered that the antibodies weren’t affected by the E484K mutation. However, the two samples had a reduction in their ability to neutralize when presented with mutations occurring at different areas in the spike protein. These samples were collected from people who were naturally infected.
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