My tryst with viruses

At around the age of 24, the thirst for understanding RNA / DNA ultimately landed me in prestigious IVRI – an almost 3 year journey – my tryst with the virus. And now after a span of 30 + years, it is again a virus threatening the whole world both vertically and horizontally at all levels. That is why I could perhaps visualize what would be the effect of Corona pandemic – since the first week of March.  I had seen multiple layers of cells being destroyed by virus, in vitro, in as large as Provisky bottles or in as small as Rous flasks at FMD centre, Bangaluru. And what destruction Corona, a tougher virus, could cause in vivo was what I could imagine with much horror.

This provoked me to volunteer for the Corona Virus Mitigation Efforts Control Room of Kashmir Division, certainly a bit in advance. After all, human beings have shown the determination as the capacity to conquer whenever their survival was threatened cutting across the barriers of geographical borders,, religion, race, colour, language, sex etc.

Virus – a zero outside but once inside the living cell/system devastates its kernel i.e. the tiny genome and changes whole arithmetic of the host cell. But present day Corona seems smarter; capable of surviving better on surfaces, table tops, mobiles, door knobs for a longer time; and again in the cough and nasal discharges, droplets etc. During my span of more than 3 decades in biological science, I saw researchers concurring Foot & Mouth Disease  – a Picornavirus to a great extent.

Exclusion of Type C and increasing the antigenic mass of Type O virus in the FMD vaccine cocktail has so far proved working well in the field. Hence the optimism that biologists world over do have the required skills to conquer Corona – is now only a race against time.

But there are many unanswered questions regarding Corona – which are going to haunt the scientific world for long. Definitely the sudden spread of Corona all over the world taking us almost unawares is a matter of introspection as well as demands a biologic audit. Normally organizations like WHO, FAO, Zoonosis, Public Health related institutions at national and international level are mandated to and do keep a strict vigil on various researches being undertaken in these. A biological researcher or a professor is weighed as per the diverse numbers of isolates he has in his – 120*C or custody in the laboratory. How the world labs could skip the mischief of traditionally suspicious China especially the developments in Wuhan; is a matter of intensive enquiry.

Again a research paper from University of Hong Kong published in 2007 in a prestigious journal having most of the authors of Chinese origin should be an eye-opener ;

It can even be put forth as evidence for declaring China as the main culprit, which says  “The rapid economic growth in southern China has led to an increasing demand for animal proteins. Large numbers and varieties of these wild game mammals in overcrowded cages and the lack of bio-security measures in wet markets allowed the jumping of this novel from animals to humans.. The small re-emergence of SARS in late 2003 after the resumption of the wildlife market in southern China and the recent discovery of a very similar virus in horseshoe bats, bat SARS-COV, suggested that SARS can return if conditions are fit for the introduction, mutation, amplification, and transmission of this dangerous virus.”. The authors concluded in the research paper “The presence of a large reservoir of SARS-CoV-like viruses in horseshoe bats, together with the culture of eating exotic mammals in southern China, is a time bomb ( a brave commitment that too in a Communist China ). The possibility of the re-emergence of SARS and other novel viruses from animals or laboratories and therefore the need for preparedness should not be ignored.”

Humanity either has been deceived or one more terror in a new format !!!

Dr. Ramesh Razdan M.V.Sc.   Vety.Virology who recently retd. As Jt. Director ( A.H.D.). He volunteered as N.O. with Additional Commissioner CVME K Div.