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COVID-19: Perspective, Patterns and Evolving strategies

Vinod Nikhra*

Affiliation(s): Department of Medicine, Hindu Rao Hospital & NDMC Medical College, New Delhi, India

Subject Category: Clinical Virology

The Global Virome: The viruses have a global distribution, phylogenetic diversity, and host specificity. They are obligate intracellular parasites with single- or double-stranded DNA or RNA genomes, and afflict bacteria, plants, animals, and human population. The infecting virus binds to receptor proteins on the host cell surface, followed by internalisation, replication, and cell lysis. Further, trans-species interactions of viruses with bacteria, small eukaryotes and host are linked with various zoonotic viral diseases and disease progression.

Virome Interface and Transmission: The cross-species transmission from the natural reservoir, usually mammalian or avian, hosts to infect human-being is a rare, but occurs leading to the zoonotic human viral infection. The factors like increased human settlements and encroachments, expanded travel and trade networks, altered wildlife and livestock practices, modernised and mass-farming practices, compromised ecosystems, and global climate change act as drivers of trans-species viral spill-over and human transmission.

Zoonotic Viral Diseases and Epidemics: The zoonotic viruses have caused various deadly pandemics in human history. They are further characterized as newly emerging or re-emerging infectious diseases, caused by pathogens that historically have infected the same host species, but continue to appear in new locations or in drug-resistant forms, or reappear after apparent control or elimination. The prevalence of zoonoses underlines importance of the animal–human–ecosystem interface in disease transmission. The present COVID-19 infection has certain distinct features which suppress the host immune response and promote the disease potential.

Treatment for Epidemics like COVID-19: It appears that certain nutraceuticals may provide relief in clinical symptoms to patients infected with encapsulated RNA viruses such as influenza and coronavirus. The nutraceuticals reduce the inflammation in the lungs and help to boost type 1 interferon response to these viral infections. The human intestinal microbiota acting in tandem with the host’s defence and immune system, is vital for homeostasis and preservation of health and protection from disease states including viral infections. Certain probiotics may help in improving the sensitivity and effectivity of immune system against viral infections. The antiviral therapy is available only for a limited number of zoonotic viral infections. The viruses being intracellular parasites, antiviral drugs are not able to deactivate or destroy the virus but can reduce the viral load by inhibiting replication and facilitating the host’s innate immune mechanisms to neutralize the virus.

Conclusion: Lessons from Recent Viral Epidemics: Considering that certain nutraceuticals have demonstrated antiviral effects in both clinical and animal studies, further studies are required to establish their therapeutic efficacy. The components of nutraceuticals such as luteolin, apigenin, quercetin and chlorogenic acid may be useful for developing a combo-therapy. The use of probiotics to enhance immunity and immune response against viral infections is a novel possibility. The available antiviral therapy is inefficient in deactivating or destroying the infecting viruses, may help in reducing the viral load by inhibiting replication. The novel efficient antiviral agents are being explored.

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