This article was inspired by two very different people. John Milton, a great poet, stated: ” Doth God exact day labor …? ” Milton was asking if God still expected him to produce poetry after he was blind. Milton decided the answer was yes. I asked myself if I should continue to write articles for the website WWW.Sanityandsense ? My answer was yes even though arthritic pain keeps me from sitting too long in my computer chair. Fortunately my vision is fine.
The second great individual who inspired this article was Isaac Asimov ( 1920-1992 ). Asimov was a great author and biochemist who published more than 400 books. I read about 400 of Asimov’s books. The really great thing about Asimov was that he could write about the natural sciences so that individuals did not have to be a Ph.D. to understand him. Sadly in America, and throughout much of the world, science is either written for young children on one extreme or for Ph.D.’s on the other extreme. Asimov bridged that gap by writing science books for high school grads and college grads who were not science majors. I believe that I possess the skill that Asimov displayed by being able to speak to a middle level group. How many newspaper articles did you read that explained the very basics of virology or exactly what the C-19 virus really is?
So, to start at the beginning, there is a Periodic Table of elements. Let us look at three elements. C is the symbol for Carbon. H is the symbol for Hydrogen. O is the symbol for Oxygen. All living organisms must contain C, H, and O. ( Possibly on other planets there is a different definition of life. ) C, H, and O form carbohydrates. There are many different carbohydrates and you probably consume some each day in your food. But one more element is necessary for life to exist on earth. N is the chemical symbol for Nitrogen. Nitrogen is the most abundant molecule in the air you and I breathe. When you add Nitrogen to the C,H, and O, a new molecule can be formed that is essential for life. When C,H,O,and N are available, molecules can be formed called amino acids. All LIFE ON EARTH MUST HAVE AMINO ACIDS TO BE CONSIDERED LIVING. Since viruses are small living organisms which can replicate(reproduce), they must contain amino acids. The human body needs 20 different amino acids for life to continue and for growth to take place and for biochemical reactions to continue.
Here is a simple way to describe an amino acid. Lets start with Carbon (C). Think of the Carbon atom as having four arms. So a Carbon atom might be able to bond with four other chemical substances. Here is exactly the definition of an amino acid. One arm of the Carbon attaches to a Hydrogen atom. A second arm of the amino acid attaches to a Carboxyl group. The carboxyl group contains both Carbon and Oxygen. The third arm of the Carbon atom attaches to an Amine group. An Amine group contains Nitrogen (N) and Hydrogen (H). That leaves the fourth arm of the Carbon atom free to attach to some other group or atom. What the fourth arm ( Chemically called a bond) attaches to determines what amino acid is formed. Now you know basically what an amino acid is. It is really not too difficult.
Not that you understand what an amino acid is, you are ready to understand a compound called a protein. A protein is nothing more than a group of amino acids that have bonded together. Your body makes small proteins, medium sized proteins, and large proteins. It turns out that the amine group of one amino acid bonds with the Carboxyl group of the next amino acid.
It turns out that the COVID-19 virus is spherical in basic shape and the outside of the virus is a protein coat consisting of amino acids that are connected. But I have left one thing out. For an organism to be a living earth creature, it must have a Nucleic Acid. DNA is one type of Nucleic Acid and RNA is another type of Nucleic Acid. SO ALL LIFE ON EARTH CONSISTS OF NUCLEOPROTEINS.
Many of the cells in your body have both DNA and RNA. However, a virus can exist with only one nucleic acid contained inside a protein outer coat to protect the Nucleic Acid. So, there are RNA viruses and DNA viruses. In order to live, an organism must be able to replicate itself. Viruses do this by using their outer protein coat to attach themselves to a cell somewhere in your body. Once a “bad virus” is attached to a cell in your body, it breaks or damages the cell membrane of your cell and inserts it’s nucleic acid into the cell. That is bad news because the viral Nucleic Acid can then use the biochemical machinery of your cell to make many more “bad viruses.” The cell explodes or dies later and many “bad viruses” can then enter your system.
But the fight is not over. Your body, either through God’s wisdom or through millions of years of evolution, knows how to fight back. If you are strong and healthy, your body can make specific antibodies to fight a particular virus. Indeed some individuals who were exposed to the C-19 virus produced so many antibodies so quickly that they did not even know that they had the C-19 virus. Antibodies are protein molecules made by your body to fight “bad viruses.” Sometimes antibodies last in the human body for a very long time and provide lifetime protection. That is good for you but bad news for the “bad viruses.”
The antibodies that your body makes to protect you are very specific. If you contracted the flu last year, your body may resist the flu a year later by using the antibodies present from the past. However, a virus can modify its’ structure. A virus can undergo an evolution before the next flu season. Therefore vaccines are usually less effective against viruses than bacteria and other micro-organisms.
R. Van Conoley