by Ryan Lee
As we approach the one-year anniversary of the shutdown of in-person classes at LAUSD due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it seems a meaningful time to reflect on this once-in-a-century event, especially with the newly-increasing availability of effective vaccines. Although the toll that COVID has taken across the country and around the world has been terrible, the speed with which doctors and scientists have been able to develop tests, therapeutics, treatments, and now vaccines has been truly awe-inspiring. As it turns out, viruses have been around since long before 2020, and even the mighty Romans and the undefeatable Mongols have fallen victim to them. In order to better understand this invisible enemy, we need to learn about the structure of viruses themselves and how they infiltrate our body. Since 1892, virologists have dedicated their lives to studying viruses, trying to discover how these mysterious balls of proteins, which lack life itself but can affect so many, can upend our lives so systematically.
The Structure and Description of Viruses
Before we ponder about how viruses infect our bodies, we have to know that there are many different types. Generally, there are four types of viral structures. Many modify themselves to add proteins to their outer shell to facilitate the integration of their genetic material.
Helical Viruses, such as the Tobacco Mosaic Virus, are usually a protein capsid surrounding a single helical RNA molecule. They are the simplest viruses and look like rigid rods. The second type is a polyhedral Virus, typically known to be isohedral. They usually contain DNA in the center of their capsule and are covered in protein spikes. Some examples of these are Adenoviruses.
Spherical Viruses look like small toy balls. They contain RNA-protein complexes and are usually studded with Glycoprotein spikes that enable them to interact with the cell’s recognition and cell-communication mechanisms. They are the most mutatable viruses, as their RNA is susceptible to mutations that may benefit them. Examples of these viruses include Influenza (the flu), HIV, and Covid-19. Finally, Complex viruses are viruses that have multiple parts, consisting of tails, fibers, and a head. They grab ahold of the host with a tail fiber and inject their Genetic Material into the host. This type of virus is usually composed of bacteriophages, viruses that only affect bacteria.
Orthocoronavirinae, of which SARS CoV-2 is a member of, is a subfamily of fairly complex spherical Viruses.The SARS-CoV 2 contains 29 different proteins, including its glycoprotein spikes, which it shares 80% of its amino acids with its predecessor, the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) virus. SARS CoV-2 and it’s family, the coronaviruses, known as Coronaviradae, are characterized by being RNA viruses and its famous Glycoprotein Spikes. The virus, SARS CoV-2, does not have a binomial taxonomic name so far. The Family is named after the latin word, “Corona”, which translates to “The crown”. The Virus uses its spikes to latch onto the angiotensin-converting Enzyme 2 (ACE2). The other 28 proteins are not very important, as only three of them make up the actual structure of the virus. One group of the other 25 proteins are expressed as two huge polyproteins and then cleaves into 16 smaller proteins, and these proteins help regulate how the proteins of its offspring are made and how it sneaks through its host’s immune system. The Third type of protein is called accessory proteins. They don’t need these proteins to replicate, however they need them to counteract the immune system. Covid-19 is more infectious than its predecessor parent, the SARS virus. SARS CoV-2 is usually called, “The coronavirus”, or “The novel Coronavirus”, however, the latter describes the virus better. SARS CoV-2 is a coronavirus, a family of viruses, includes many mammalian RNA viruses such as Mink coronavirus and Bat coronavirus CDPHE15.
Illustration of SARS-COV2
Glycoprotein (RBD = Receptor
The Brief History of Viruses
Humans have always been aware that something has been ruining their precious tobacco crops and caused death. However, they simply did not know why or what sickened them, they assumed it was a bacteria or some other infectious agent.
It wasn’t until 1883 when Adolf Mayer, a German Scientist, discovered the characteristic traits of a virus. Adolf Mayer discovered that he could transmit the ailment by rubbing the sap extracted from the diseased leaves of the tobacco plant onto healthy plants. After unsuccessful searches for an infectious microbe, he determined that it was caused by tiny bacteria. Years later, Dmitri Ivanowsky, a Russian biologist, passed the sap through a filter that was known to remove the smallest bacteria. After an unsuccessful attempt, he determined that there was a smaller bacteria or the toxin made by the bacteria made it through.
Dutch botanist Martinus Beijerinck carried out experiments to show that the filtered agent in the sap can still replicate. He also discovered that the agent would not grow without a host. He is known as the father of Virology because he had voiced the concept of a virus. The Virus became known as the Tobacco Mosaic Virus.
How Viruses Replicate
A virus, which most people know and agree with, enters the cell and spreads its genetic material, overriding the host cell’s machinery and making more cells. This is known as the lytic cycle. Contrariwise, there is another reproductive cycle, and it is called the lysogenic cycle, which is not well known.
The lytic cycle is the reason why we get sick. The virus enters the cell and releases its genetic material. The genetic material then replicates itself for later use and transcribes the genome into mRNA, which is sent to the endomembrane system to create proteins. Somewhere in the cell, the Machinery starts to assemble the proteins and the replicated DNA into new viruses. This process will kill the cell, and replication of DNA may bring about mutations to the virus, making viruses such as the flu resistant to old vaccines.
The lysogenic cycle of the cell is typically characterized by the cell not dying or doing anything. The virus attaches itself to the cell, injects its genome, and simply does not kill the cell. Instead, the genome integrates itself into the cell’s chromosomes and waits for certain factors to burst or not. The cell may divide and produce a population of cells infected with the virus. The genetic material may exit the bacterial chromosome, which can become the point where the lytic or the lysogenic cycle initiates.
Vaccines are a way for us to build immunity to a virus that humans have never encountered before. Before elaborating on the mechanics of immunity, it’s important to understand the basic mechanisms of vaccines. A vaccine is essentially a weakened version of the virus, an enzyme that inhibits the binding of the glycoproteins or receptors of the virus, or just the glycoproteins of the virus. In the immune system, there are three types of immune cells, the B cells, the T cells, and the macrophage. The B cells float around the body, binding to any foreign substance. After it binds to the virus, the B cell releases all of its receptors on its body, leaving the virus floating with the receptor binding to it. The B cell then starts to rapidly undergo mitosis to give rise to a group of cells that create the antigen receptor. The macrophage then comes and eats the virus. The T-cell, on the other hand, roams the circulatory system and keeps an eye out for infected cells. They are covered in receptors that bind to parts of the virus. An infected cell will usually present a piece of the antigen on an MHC molecule, causing the T-cell to bind to it and trigger an immune response. The immune system remembers this virus by using memory B-cells, a cluster of long-lived cells that remain to wait until the next viral infection by the same virus.
Every year, a person has to take a vaccine for the flu, a highly contagious and fast-mutating RNA virus. A new vaccine is made every year for the strains of the virus that are most prevalent. We can create a vaccine for SARS-CoV 2, yet its characteristic of being a notorious RNA virus creates the need for us to monitor its mutations and create a future-proof vaccine. But how is a vaccine made?
Since there are many types of viruses, there are many different types of vaccines. The flu virus, which is a spherical Virus, requires the use of dead viruses to force the body to create antibodies for the specific strain for that year. This is called an inactivated vaccine. Some vaccines, such as chickenpox or mumps virus, use a weakened or normal version of the virus to cause the body to fight the infection. This type of vaccine is called a live-attenuated vaccine. Subunit, recombinant, polysaccharide, and conjugate vaccines are pieces of the virus that trigger strong immune responses that can protect the person from future infections from the virus.
The Coronavirus Vaccine, in simplest terms, is a piece of mRNA that codes for the Glycoproteins on the virus which allows the virus to get into the cell. The mRNA is harmless and a subunit Vaccine. The mRNA gets into a nearby cell and the cell makes the protein. The cell then displays the protein on the MHC molecule, allowing the T-cells to see it and create an immune response. The antibodies are made and the Memory B-cells are ready to release the Antibodies when the cell is invaded again. The RNA Vaccine is particularly effective on the Coronavirus since it poses the least risk to the body and is easy to make.
Although it has been a diabolic time, particularly for those who have lost loved ones to the disease, we are fortunate that our knowledge of viruses and the human body has allowed modern medical science to create vaccines and eradicate diseases much more rapidly than the past. Even just a year ago, we thought the earliest an effective vaccine would be available was 18-24 months, but here we are with not just one, but three vaccines which have been very effective in preventing COVID infections and serious illness. While we will need to continue to be vigilant against the coronavirus and its variants for some time to come, something that looks more like normal life seems to be possible again soon.
Timeline of Events of Coronavirus
Additional information available here: https://www.who.int/news/item/29-06-2020-covidtimeline
Nature News, Nature Publishing Group, https://www.nature.com/scitable/topicpage/the-origins-of-viruses-14398218/.
“COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker.” Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society (RAPS), https://www.raps.org/news-and-articles/news-articles/2020/3/covid-19-vaccine-tracker.
“Different COVID-19 Vaccines.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines.html.
“Digital Collections – National Library of Medicine.” U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, https://collections.nlm.nih.gov/bookviewer?PID=nlm:nlmuid-2569009R-bk#page/46/mode/2up.
“Immunization Basics.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 16 May 2018, https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/imz-basics.htm.
Jarus, Owen. “20 Of the Worst Epidemics and Pandemics in History.” LiveScience, Purch, 20 Mar. 2020, https://www.livescience.com/worst-epidemics-and-pandemics-in-history.html.
“Outbreak: 10 of the Worst Pandemics in History By Staff.” Outbreak: 10 of the Worst Pandemics in History, https://www.mphonline.org/worst-pandemics-in-history/.
Santora, Tara. “2020-2021 Flu Shot Ingredients: What Is in the Flu Shot, and Why?” Fatherly, 14 Jan. 2021, https://www.fatherly.com/health-science/flu-shot-ingredients-flu-vaccine/.
“Understanding MRNA COVID-19 Vaccines.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines/mrna.html.
“Vaccine Types.” Vaccines, https://www.vaccines.gov/basics/types.
“Variola Virus (Smallpox).” Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, https://www.centerforhealthsecurity.org/our-work/publications/smallpox-fact-sheet.
“View of Andrew Brown’s ‘Earnest Endeavor’: The Federal Gazette’s Role in Philadelphia’s Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793: Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography.” View of Andrew Brown’s “Earnest Endeavor”: The Federal Gazette’s Role in Philadelphia’s Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 | Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, https://journals.psu.edu/pmhb/article/view/45107/44828.Read More
by Allen Choi and Payton Suh
Although the Coronavirus has brought shutdown to many parts of the world, many things, both good and bad, have happened to our Earth due to a decrease in human activity. Ever since we have been in lockdown, the Earth has been changing slowly in many ways. From CO2 emissions to the ozone layer, quarantine may be bringing a positive effect on the environment.
The Los Angeles Air Quality
The Coronavirus has brought many surprises, such as the sudden decrease in pollution in Los Angeles. From mid-March to early April 2020, one of the most polluted municipalities in the world had a sudden streak in good air quality. Studies show that Los Angeles air quality hasn’t been so good since 1980, over 40 years ago. The average bad air quality in Los Angeles was cut down by 20%. Researchers also found a drop of 40% in PM 2.5, which is a group of microscopic pollutants that can cause serious issues with respiratory and cardiovascular functions. PM 2.5 gets into the air through many sources; in Los Angeles, this mainly happens because of vehicle traffic. Since quarantine has encouraged people to stay at home, traffic has been reduced, which is why PM 2.5 levels have decreased.
The decreased pollution in Los Angeles gave the city some beautiful views. But unfortunately, all good things come to an end. Soon after the decrease in air pollution, Los Angeles’s good air quality streak has slowly gone back to normal. Some people claimed that Coronavirus had got rid of smog. Is this true? Not really. Even though being in quarantine contributed to decreasing pollution, being stuck inside our houses was not fully responsible for the clean and fresh air. Air quality experts say that stormy spring weather was another main contributor to why the Los Angeles sky was so clear. Another study shows that the good air streak came to an end because of a recent heatwave, which created unhealthy smog levels again. We do have to remember that the Los Angeles basin traps both water vapor via our regional marine layer, particulate matter, and emissions, creating smog. Health officials suspect worse air quality as we head into the hotter summer months. So, did quarantine cause the air in Los Angeles to become more clear? Not exactly, but being in lockdown surely did make a good impact on our air quality. Perhaps we can maintain some of the improvements if we continue to reduce our driving and industrial emissions.
The Arctic Ozone Layer
Recently, there have been reports from NASA about changes in the ozone layer over the Arctic. The ozone layer sits in the stratosphere and is very important to the planet. Ozone consists of three oxygen atoms, and ozone molecules are highly reactive. Although just three oxygen atoms, these atoms block ultraviolet radiation. The ozone level should be well-maintained because ultraviolet radiation can cause skin cancer, eye cataracts, genetic, and immune problems. Oftentimes, Dobson units are used to measure ozone levels. Unfortunately in the Arctic, the ozone layer in the stratosphere has been damaged quite a lot. In recent years, it’s become worse due to global warming. However, the ozone levels in March were at around 205 Dobson. This is low compared to last year’s ozone levels at this time. Seasonally, an Arctic “hole” appears in our protective ozone layer. Chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons have been destroying the ozone layer in the Arctic for the past century, eventually causing the famous hole that formed in Antarctica in the 1980s. In 1987, over 175 countries agreed to stop using these chemicals.
Astonishingly, in the last days of April, scientists announced that the Arctic “hole” had healed, according to Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service. Experts say that this “healing” is most probably due to reduced industrial activity as well as reduced travel via cars and planes, although there is still not enough information to make an accurate claim.
Over the past decade, annual CO2 emissions have increased by 1% (excluding 2019). CO2 is important for the carbon cycle, especially to green plants. Green plants use CO2 to create glucose, which plants need for survival. But CO2 is also a greenhouse gas, this means that it contributes to global warming. When cars use fossil fuels to run them, CO2 or carbon dioxide, is released into the atmosphere. Even the slightest increase in CO2 causes the Earth to get warmer.
Since being told to stay in our homes, fewer cars roam the streets. Because of this, there has been a decline in CO2 emissions, which is beneficial to the environment in the sense that it helps fight against global warming. Recently, daily global CO2 emissions have fallen by an average of 17%, compared to the Spring of 2019.
Wild Animals Take Over
In some major cities, as people stay in their homes, animals have begun to explore areas that they were once too afraid to venture into. In some cities, wild animals have been seen on the streets. In Nara, Japan, about 100 deer were spotted walking in the city. Mountain goats were found walking on the streets in Llandudno, Wales because of the lack of people. There are also many other animals that are walking into the road such as boars, coyotes, alligators, hippos, and, in Chile, even pumas. Sadly, some animals who live in or near cities have grown dependent on humans as sources of food handouts. Fox News reported that hungry monkeys have been sighted fighting for food in the cities of Thailand and India. Hopefully, as lockdown restrictions begin to be eased, animals and humans can find away to peacefully co-exist in high population areas again.
We hope this article gives you good information on some of the recent changes in the environment. – Payton Suh and Allen Choi
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by Suren Grigorian
Following the recent outbreak of the novel coronavirus resulting in an increasing number of infected people, we are entering a new era filled with fearful projections of the future. A large majority of that fear appears to originate from fear of the unknown, specifically from the fact that among the individuals representing the statistical majority of the public, a small quantity possess actual knowledge of the scientific mechanisms responsible for the dissemination of the virus or what may remain attempted to halt the aforementioned spread. The fact that the mechanisms of the virus, to the general public, remain an opaque novelty is particularly dangerous, as ignorance fosters misinformation and misconceptions; thus, this article shall attempt to elucidate the fundamental principles behind the outbreak in a manner which, the author hopes, shall relieve a small quantity of the anxiety associated with this event, an event which has effected great change upon the lives of us and our relatives.
For an individual to understand the fundamentals of the outbreak, it first remains necessary to understand the virus itself. The virus, currently designated as the Severe Acute Respiratory Disease Coronavirus 2 or SARS-CoV-2 via scientists, primarily remains classified as a member of the family Coronaviridae; generally named for their appearance, similar to a crown beneath an electron microscope. Coronaviruses remain associated with numerous mild illnesses affecting the upper respiratory tract, including the common cold, a small fraction of which remains attributed to them. However, 3 viruses within this family, with the inclusion of SARS-CoV-2, remain attributed to severe respiratory diseases. The origins of the current virus remain slightly obscure, though the development of the virus allows for the delineation of its development. According to current scientific research, the genetic composition of the virus resembles the genetic composition of coronaviruses prevalent among bat species; however, additional evidence links the proteins upon the surface of the virus (discussed in additional detail further onwards) to pangolins, with the former remaining a particularly plausible explanation. Though the origins of the virus do not remain certain, a recent scientific statement within The Lancet regarding the danger of virus conspiracy theories cites papers analysing its genetic composition. One such paper concludes that the coronavirus possesses an approximate 88% similarity to 2 bat coronaviruses, providing general evidence that the virus remains of natural origin.
With a generalised scientific outline of the taxonomy and epidemiological history of the virus established, one can proceed to the biological components of the virus within its generality. To establish the fundamental biology of the virus, one must begin with its typology. The novel coronavirus remains classified as a positive-sense single-stranded RNA virus; the virus itself possesses an approximate width of 90 nanometres, while 4 varying proteins remain contained within the virus, in addition to the previously referenced genetic material. The virion primarily remains distinguished as a mammalian virus due to its external phospholipid membrane; such a membrane, primarily constructed from the external plasma membrane of the cells which the virus infects, assists within entry. The genetic material of the virus primarily contains approximately 29,900 nucleotides, a miniscule quantity in comparison to the gene sizes known to us today, but massive for the large majority of RNA viruses. The internal components of the genetic material of the virus determine the process of infection. 20,000 RNA bases, 20 kilobases within the virus, remain devoted to replicase genes, responsible for the construction of polyproteins, which remain divided into non-structural proteins. An additional 10 kilobases remain devoted to essential and accessory proteins, including the spike, envelope, nucleocapsid and membrane proteins. However, the large majority of scientific discussion concerns the membrane of the virus; here, the key to entry within a cell remains located.
ACE2, scientifically known as Angiotensin I Converting Enzyme 2, remains established as a protein receptor upon the surface of human cells responsible for regulation of cardiovascular and renal metabolism. However, it serves as a binding protein receptor to the spike proteins of SARS-CoV-2, forming a primary and crucial component of the entry of the virus into a healthy cell. An additional factor responsible for assisting the entry of the virus into the archetypal cell remains the serine protease TMPRSS2, responsible for assisting within S protein priming. The function of this remains the splicing of the aforementioned spike protein, producing a fusion peptide and allowing finalisation of entry. The surface of the virus additionally possesses such receptors as hemagglutinin esterase; however, this does not remain particularly applicable to the mechanisms via which the virus remains responsible for infecting human cells.
However, an essential component of the general effect of the virus upon the human body remains the entry of a singular virus within a singular human cell. This occurs via a detailed biological process responsible for general infection. Firstly, the spike protein receptors upon the surface of the virus attach to the ACE2 receptors upon the surface of the human cell (As previously referenced, the serine protease TMPRSS2 splices the spike protein, producing a fusion peptide and allowing entry). Following this, a series of processes occur which allow for the replication of the simplified genetic material of the cell via the utilisation of replicase enzymes which exist within the cell itself; a set of pp1a and pp1b polyproteins remain produced, primarily responsible for the formation of a replicase-transcriptase complex, which manufactures replicated RNA segments. As viral proteins remain manufactured and assemble concomitantly to the proteins comprising the viral body, exocytosis occurs, releasing additional viruses into the interstitial fluid of the body and producing the incipient entrance instances of a viral infection within the body. The spike proteins which mediate these processes within viruses (including the virus responsible for the SARS outbreak within the early 2000s) and those within the coronavirus remain generally similar.
Though individual mechanisms of infection remain a component of the damage produced via the virus, its general effects upon the body and its methodology of attack remain an additional component. Analysis of this requires a general understanding of the immune system. A singular component of the mechanism utilised via the coronavirus to conduct a total bodily infection remains the offensive upon the human lungs. Following infection, virions enter the alveoli of the lungs, the primary centre for respiration and the general absorption of oxygen from atmospheric substances. With the virus inflicting severe damage upon the cells of the alveoli, leukocytes within the blood attempt to halt the damage, with the immune system producing an excessive reaction known as a cytokine storm. Within the worst instances, the walls of the alveoli collapse, producing acute respiratory distress syndrome. Acute respiratory distress syndrome remains defined as a respiratory disorder within which fluid from capillaries within the alveoli begins to leak, producing decreased quantities of oxygen within the blood stream and a condition known as hypoxemia. Following this, severe organ damage occurs, with potential sepsis resulting from immune system activity and producing a possibility of death. The final stage within the dissemination of the virus remains its spread to additional individuals. This primarily occurs via a system of release which necessitates the utilisation of masks; according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the virus primarily remains released via infectious droplets of saliva or mucus, producing infections within additional individuals.
However, to produce a general understanding of the methodologies necessary for the development of an epidemic and an eventual pandemic, one must understand the mathematics of epidemiological dissemination; in particular, the development of the coronavirus remains reliant upon exponential growth. In particular, the general model utilised via epidemiologists remains the SIR model, additionally known as the susceptible, infected and recovered model, with the addition of exposed individuals. Utilisation of this model requires the application of Rₒ, the quantity of individuals which may remain infected as a fraction of the quantity who contact an infected individual. Following the progression of an epidemic, epidemiologists adjust this in association with variations within the progression of the pandemic, though the Rₒ of the virus remains 3. The mathematics of the development of the pandemic ultimately remain dependent upon this; the development of the epidemic, however, progresses beyond simple transmission models.
One could primarily characterise the development of the pandemic within an SIR model via a formula within which the change within the quantity of cases per day, perhaps represented as ΔC, remains equivalent to the quantity of individuals exposed each day, multiplied via the quantity of existing cases, multiplied via the probability of contracting the virus provided an instance of contact. When one utilises such a model, it remains effortless to note that at a particular point within the outbreak, all individuals within the population will remain infected and the virus will remain incapable of disseminating further. The question remains if the outbreak remains capable of infecting all individuals within the population, a definitively avoidable outcome; if this occurs, one could expect to observe exponential growth within an outbreak, decaying following a period of time. However, epidemics tend to follow, with the occurrence of restrictions, logistic growth, a mathematical methodology of growth whereby a function continues within a stage of exponential
growth for a period of time, following which, at the inflection point, the derivative of the function begins to decrease, within a bell curve pattern. Following this, the development of the epidemic remains drastically reduced, culminating within a flatline, where the quantity of additional cases remains particularly small. In fact, if one plots the derivative of the resulting function, known as the sigmoid function, the derivative intersects the Y-axis at precisely 50% of the value at which the sigmoid intersects; this indicates that the inflection point for the sigmoid function and thus, the point at which the dissemination of the disease begins to halt, occurs at the point within which the derivative attains its largest value.
Though this aspect of the outbreak possesses relevance, a particularly primary aspect remains the history of the outbreak; within weeks of its development, the entirety of the developed world screeched to a halt, industrially, commercially and governmentally. How did this occur? Beginning with the outbreak itself, one could analyse the development of the outbreak from its inception; on November 17, 2019, according to Chinese officials and the South China Morning Post, an individual, 55 years of age, became the first recorded case worldwide of the virus. During the previous year, approximately 266 individuals placed within medical surveillance remained registered; however, the extent of the outbreak became clear to Chinese Communist Party officials upon December 31, when government officials within the province of Hubei announced that several dozen individuals remained within treatment for a novel infectious virus, as of yet unknown to the scientific community. Upon January 11, the Chinese government reported the first death from the novel disease, a man of 61 years who purchased materials from the wet market where the virus remains suspected to have begun; the death occurred upon January 9, when the man, admitted to a medical facility for treatment, failed to recover and died of heart failure. Following this, the first confirmed cases were reported within external nations, as within the following days, Thailand, South Korea and Japan reported cases; upon January 21, the first case within the United States was reported, with a man of 30 years developing symptoms following his return from Wuhan.
Upon January 23, Chinese government officials ordered the immediate placement of the city of Wuhan and the province of Hubei within lockdown, prior to the Chinese Lunar New Year. At this point, approximately 570 individuals remained infected, with approximately 17 dead. The remainder of the nation experienced increased lockdown measures, with Lunar New Year celebrations cancelled. Upon February 2, 3 days following the WHO declaration regarding the coronavirus as an emergency of international concern, China reported approximately 14,380 cases. As the nation of China remained placed within severe lockdown, precautions began within additional nations; several governments imposed testing upon all entering flights and their passengers. Several days prior, human-to-human transmission remained conclusively located, massively increasing the urgency of global preparations. Upon February 9, approximately 37,198 cases remained recorded, with noted Chinese whistleblower Dr. Li Wenliang dying of the disease upon February 7.
On February 14, France became the first nation within Europe to report a death resulting from the novel virus, with Italy reporting 3 deaths upon February 23 and local government officials halting the Venice Carnival, an event which, were it to continue upon its charted schedule, could produce hundreds or perhaps thousands of additional infections. From February 24 to March 1, a wave of incipient cases occurred, with nations such as the Netherlands, Greece, Georgia, Denmark and numerous contemporaries reporting initial cases. With cases exiting the quarantined and docked Diamond Princess cruise ship, upon February 27, the United States government began to consider the implementation of the Defense Production Act, which would grant President Trump the ability to control national production facilities within emergency situations. The first death within the United States occurred upon February 29, with President Trump disrupting travel from Europe upon March 11 and declaring a national emergency upon March 13. Gathering within groups of 50 or greater was promptly chastised via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and upon March 15, the New York school system, the largest within the United States, closed. Though the European Union, facing increasing infections, restricted non-essential travel into the bloc, 2 days following the announcement, upon March 19, China reported 0 local infections, with 14 resulting from external travel and approximately 80,967 infections total; the first nation to experience an immediate halt to the continuation of the virus, China reported positive results primarily due to their brutal quarantine measures.
Upon March 30, an influx of state isolation directives remained issued within the United States, with approximately 265 million Americans placed within isolation. Earlier, upon March 13, the Los Angeles Unified School District, the second largest within the United States, announced a 2-week closure, extended first to May 1 and, following the initial announcement, to the terminal end of the school year. As the outbreak continued, numerous additional events began to contribute to its dissemination, with cases surging within Russia, deaths increasing within Iran and Italy and the United States assuming the mantle of the nation with the largest recorded quantity of coronavirus cases upon the planet. `Russia now possesses approximately 300,000 cases, an issue compounded via the manipulation of statistics due to bureaucratic machinations. And thus, our story returns to today.
With this immense quantity of suffering and death, as well as economic difficulties for millions of Americans and global citizens, one would naturally wonder: does there remain a cure? Scientists, researchers and pharmaceutical specialists across the world are labouring to locate a cure; so far, 7 promising treatments remain within clinical trials, according to The Economist. A promising option, one which I am sure our readers have observed within televised media, remains remdesivir, a treatment originally developed via Gilead Sciences, a prominent American pharmaceutical corporation. As a nucleoside analogue, a treatment which mirrors the chemical structure of genetic material, the efficacy of remdesivir primarily remains attributed to its ability to prevent genetic replication. In addition to 2 trials within Asia developed via Gilead Sciences, the chemical remains authorised for emergency clinical utilisation within the United States, with supplies allocated to hospitals within multiple states. However, though promising, it does not halt the effects of the virus totally, with several researchers insisting it possesses a minor effect and a previously cited Chinese study within this article additionally supplementing this view.
If not remdesivir, then what? Trials of the clinical cocktail Lopinavir-Ritonavir, commercially known as Kaletra, remain within progress or completed. However, as within the case of a study published within the New England Journal of Medicine, they do not necessarily deliver promising results, with an additional study published within The Lancet indicating that triple antiviral therapy performed superiorly to Kaletra. Perhaps favipiravir, known as Avigan, then; this appears to remain the case, as the Russian government, in association with domestic pharmaceutical groups, indicated that a trial of the treatment remains near completion, displaying greater than 80% efficacy. Tocilizumab, known as Actemra commercially, remains an additional option; approved for utilisation within China and sparingly utilised within Italy, it prevents inflammatory responses such as the referenced cytokine storm within its standard application as an arthritis drug.
As for vaccines, numerous varying methodologies exist for the development of vaccines to combat the virus. These include live vaccines, viral vector vaccines, nucleic acid vaccines, protein-based vaccines and additional types. Within a live vaccine, a weakened or destroyed version of the virus, with spike proteins intact, remains introduced within the body, allowing for immediate recognition via the immune system and the development of immunity. The American biotechnology corporation Codagenix, within collaboration with the Serum Institute of India, currently remains within the process of developing a deactivated live vaccine. Viral vector vaccines, additionally known as recombinant vector vaccines, utilise the process of genetic modification to introduce relevant spike protein genome sections within the genomes of varying viruses, such as adenoviruses, an approach pursued via Johnson & Johnson and CanSino, the latter of which possesses a Phase II vaccine. Nucleic acid vaccines, a novel and untested development within the field, primarily remain reliant upon recent advances within genetic engineering, whereby the coronavirus spike peptide gene, in addition to a quantity of DNA, remains subjected to electroporation, developing membrane pores to increase acceptance and allowing for the production of spike proteins, triggering an immune response. This remains within Phase I trials under the guidance of Beijing Advaccine Biotechnology Inovio Pharmaceuticals as a DNA vaccine and an RNA vaccine under Moderna and CureVac, the latter of which aims to “print” such components. Protein-based vaccines primarily insert large quantities of independent antigens, triggering an individual immune response; this remains pursued via Clover Pharmaceuticals, Novovax, the notable Sanofi Pasteur and the United States military, among others. With such entities as Oxford University, the US government and Chinese state apparatus developing vaccines, there remains a slight quantity of hope. However, solutions remain within the distant intervals of several months onward.
In conclusion, the author hopes that this analysis of the individual components of the worldwide coronavirus outbreak shall provide a sufficient quantity of comfort to those who are subjected to the jarring reality we face today. Hopefully, this virus shall be eradicated, but for now, our thoughts and hopes remain both with the relatives of those lost to the outbreak and to the researchers attempting to develop a cure.
- National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. (n.d.). Coronaviruses. Retrieved April 27, 2020, from https://www.niaid.nih.gov/diseases-conditions/coronaviruses
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by Suren Grigorian and Daniel Svediani
The name of Rube Goldberg has become synonymous with the word “mechanism,” with his machines connoting images of complex chain reactions which accomplish a minor and relatively routine task at their end. However, the development of these machines began upon the drawing board, as the original Rube Goldberg developed a reputation for these devices through his artistic precocity.
Rube Goldberg, known originally as Reuben Lucius Goldberg, was born on July 4, 1883, to a San Francisco police and fire commissioner and a member of a Reform Jewish congregation. During his childhood, he displayed remarkable talent in the tracing of illustrations. As he grew up, his inclination toward the arts became apparent, but he was encouraged on a path of engineering by his father, graduating from the University of California, Berkeley in 1904. However, his presence in the engineering community did not last long, as he decided to pursue his original inclination for the arts. He joined the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Francisco Bulletin, gaining cartoon syndication with several newspapers.
By 1915, he became known as America’s most popular cartoonist. His most popular comic strip was The Inventions of Professor Lucifer Gorganzola, which brought him fame and is the one that we all associate with Rube Goldberg. The strip exhibited comically intricate inventions created by a Professor Butts, and these devices would later become known as Rube Goldberg machines. Later, he created a series of seven short animated films depicting the humorous aspects of everyday life.
Check out the awesome student-made Rube Goldberg machine shorts from Mr. Bradfield’s MakerSpace classes in the attached compilation above!
Original Rube Goldberg cartoons:
How 3D Printers Work
By: Suren Grigorian and Everett Lane
3D printing is a technology which, prior to the beginning of the 21st century, remained exclusively confined to the subjects of industrial manufacturing and prototype production. It is gaining traction in the consumer/recreational world as one of the most ubiquitous and recent technologies of the early millennium; however, a large majority of those who do not have experience with 3D printing remain unclear as to what it entails. 3D printing, to clarify, is primarily defined as a set of technologies capable of depositing the semi-liquid or solid form of a particular material, normally various types of plastic, to form a 3-dimensional shape based upon a digital design; 3D printers are named as such due to their ability to print an item within 3 dimensions via extrusion, similarly to how a standard printer extrudes ink to form a 2-dimensional image. 3D printers possess commercial and industrial variations, whereby commercial 3D printers primarily exist within the form of either material extrusion printers or powder bed fusion printers; the first of these types utilizes the aforementioned process of extruding a select quantity of material via a nozzle similar to that of a standard printer, allowing the device to construct an item, layer by layer, along previously established lines from a digital model. This type, additionally known as fused deposition modeling, remains particularly common, as it occupies the largest portion of the commercial 3D printing market today; this is a direct result of its relatively small cost.
The second type of standard commercial 3D printer remains the powder bed fusion type; this type is primarily characterized via a mechanism which, rather than processing and extruding material from a separate store, utilizes concentrated lasers to melt, solidify and fuse a bed of powdered material, normally polyamide plastic, into a final shape. As each fusion cycle is completed, a roller contributes additional material and the cycle begins once more; this type primarily consists of selective laser sintering, patented at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in the 1980s and today the most common type. The objects produced by both types additionally possess varying textures, with the former producing granulated, coarse items and the latter producing smooth, layered and ribbed items; though texture varies, the primary factor which leads the average hobbyist to select one over the other is cost, as powder bed fusion 3D printers are more expensive than the standard fused deposition modeling types.
But what of industrial 3D printers? These 3D printers are primarily characterized via the utilization of technologies which served as the ancestors to the modern 3D printer. Some types of filaments for 3D printing are PLA and ABS, but in this case polymer will be used. These 3D printers usually make their product with a pool of liquid. This is called Stereolithography. First, a roller on the printer spreads out an extremely thin layer of liquid polymer on a platform. Since the layer is a liquid, it will spread out across the entire platform with an even distribution so each layer will have a consistent thickness. The liquid polymer is specially designed to be UV sensitive, so when it is struck with a UV laser it solidifies. Essentially the laser bra is the outlines of the build onto the platform and the places that the laser touch garden. Then the roller rolls a new layer of polymer onto the platform and the platform shifts downwards to facilitate the new layer that has been added to the platform. The process gets repeated over and over again until the build is completed. Then it lifts the newly lasered plastic up out of the resin and the remaining flows away to be used in other builds.
|Can be printed on a non-heated surface||Can deform because of heat||Very sturdy and hard||More damaging to the environment.|
|Smells sweet when being printed||Less sturdy than ABS||Suitable for cars and machine parts||Needs to be printed on a heated surface.|
|More environmentally friendly||Higher melting point||Releases plastic fumes when printing.|
|Higher printing speed||Longer lifespan||More difficult to print.|
|A lot more detail||Not suitable for using with food.|
So, after looking at this chart you can tell that if you are a recreational printer, you should go with PLA. But, if you are in a more high tech industry, ABS is the way to go. One more thing: The type of printer used has a great effect on the quality of the print. For example, if you have a budget of $200-$300 you would not be able to purchase the highest quality printer. But if your budget is $500-$1000 then you can dive into the field of serious 3D printing. The speed of the printing also affects the quality. If you’re willing to wait, you will get a better finished product of your work.
So, as you might have heard already there have been some breakthroughs achieved in the field of 3D printing organic matter. For example, there have been confirmed reports of 3D printed skin made with an organic printer that has already been used in transplants and large wounds. 3D printing can also be used in transplants because it is so easy to make but it is still being developed.
There are also many advantages to having a 3D printed body. Part of that is because it is easier to make than other alternatives. Companies such as Organovo, or Biobots have been doing and researching these alternatives for years. So don’t expect for this to come out for even private use for a while!
3D printing software is important when making something to be 3D printed.. Some people can get the best filament and 3D printer but forget that there is no way to print anything without an engine to print through! Some types of software are Fusion 360 Autodesk, TinkerCAD, and OpenSCAD. (Information from https://all3dp.com/1/best-free-3d-printing-software-3d-printer-program/)
|Name||Function||Difficulty level (To operate)||Platforms|
|Cura||Slicer, 3D printing Host||Beginner||Windows, Mac, Linux|
|Matter Control 2.0||STL Editor, STL Repair, Cutter, 3D Printing Host||Beginner||Windows, Mac, Ubuntu, Raspberry Pi|
|Astroprint||Slicer, 3D printer host||Beginner||Browser|
|FreeCAD||Design||Intermediate||Windows, Mac, Linux|
|OpenSCAD||Design||Intermediate||Windows, Mac, Linux|
|OctoPrint||Cutter, 3D Printer Host||Intermediate||Windows, Mac, Linux, Rasbian|
|Meshmixer||STL Editor, STL Repair||Intermediate||Windows, Mac|
|MakePrintable||STL Editor, STL Repair||Intermediate||Browser|
|Netfabb||STL Repair, Cutter||Professional||Windows|
|MeshLab||Editor, STL Repair||Professional||Windows, Mac, Linux|
|Blender||Blender||Professional||Windows, Mac, Linux|
Here are some of the many applications of 3D printing:
And now, with the many challenges of having sufficient equipment to handle the caseload of the COVID-19 pandemic, some intrepid printers are modifying existing ventilators with a 3D printed part called a Y-splitter, which can help stretch the capabilities of the world’s limited supply of ventilators by dividing the air flow from a single ventilator to multiple patients. See article below:Read More
WELCOME TO THIS YEAR’S
BREAKTHROUGH JUNIOR CHALLENGE
You get it. You’ve grasped an important scientific theory, concept or principle.
Now can you share your insight?
An inventive video can get across complex material that would take pages of text to communicate.
To take part in the Breakthrough Junior Challenge (the “Challenge”), create a short video (3:00 minutes max) to explain a big idea in one of these fields:
- Life Sciences
Explain a big scientific idea in Physics, Life Sciences or Mathematics with a short video.
You will have until June 25, 2020 at 11:59 PM PDT to submit your video (3:00 minutes max).
You can take part in this year’s Challenge as long as you’re:
- 13 or older by 12:01 AM PDT on April 1, 2020
- Not older than 18 (not yet 19) as of 11:59 PM PDT on October 1, 2020
Your film can take any form you like: animation, talking head, documentary, dramatic reconstruction, whatever. It’s worth keeping in mind that video is a dynamic visual medium – using diagrams, simulations, physical demonstrations etc. is a lot more effective than standing in front of a blackboard talking.
The videos will be judged according to the following criteria:
For more info, application process, and previous year’s finalists: https://breakthroughjuniorchallenge.org/