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Exploring the Coronavirus Pandemic: How the Host and Virus Interact

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We’ve heard a lot about ways to prevent infection with coronavirus including social distancing measures, hygiene and the mission to find an effective vaccine. But what happens if you are exposed to SARS-CoV-2? What does the virus do once it meets our cells, why do we develop the clinical signs we do, how does the immune system respond to the invader and why are some people more vulnerable than others?

In a recent interview with Technology Networks,
Professor Ben tenOever, a Professor of Microbiology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, explained how he and his team are investigating the way host cells respond to viral infection, specifically SARS-CoV-2, and discusses some of the techniques that have been key in enabling them to understand the way different patients may respond.

During a normal response to infection, our body generates a “call to arms” and “call for reinforcements” that in combination enable our immune system to combat invaders. Professor tenOever highlights how, during infection with SARS-CoV-2, whilst the “call for reinforcements” signal remains, the virus effectively turns down the “call to arms” signals, impairing the immune system’s ability to respond effectively. These observations go some way towards explaining the physiology of the disease, and why for those who additionally have a compromised or weakened immune system, complications are being seen.

Take a look at our
Exploring the Coronavirus Pandemic interview series to discover more expert insights relating to the COVID-19 outbreak. Visit our coronavirus hubpage to stay updated with all the latest news on the COVID-19 pandemic.