How coronavirus hijacks the body and 'opens the floodgates' for mass infection

Coronavirus is able to rapidly multiply by hijacking the body and forcing it to produce more receptors it can use to enter and infect organs, a study suggests.

US experts processed 2.5billion genetic combinations of Covid-19 in a super-computer to try and understand how the virus impacts the body.

They believe they have cracked why Covid-19 causes a slew of bizarre symptoms and are now recommending more than 10 potential treatments for the disease.

The team, from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, found the virus typically infects people through ACE-2 receptors in the nose, where they are most common.

It then races through the body, invading cells in other places where ACE-2 is located, including the intestines, kidneys and heart - explaining the cardiac and kidney damage, and abdominal pains, seen in many patients.

Once inside human cells, though, it tricks the body into producing more ACE-2 receptors where they are normally only present in small numbers, including in the lungs.

This essentially opens the floodgates and allows Covid-19 to rapidly multiply and send armies of viral particles to infect more parts of the body in huge numbers.

A byproduct of this crafty process is that it interferes with the body's ability to control levels of a chemical called bradykinin, which helps regulate blood pressure, according to the team's analysis.

This leads to a catastrophic build-up of the chemical, causing a 'bradykinin storm' which makes blood vessels leaky and drives up the risk of inflammation, blood clots, strokes and brain damage - deadly symptoms observed in the sickest of patients.

The Oak Ridge scientists are recommending a series of bradykinin-reducing drugs including danazol, stanozolol, and ecallantide, which are already approved in the UK and US for other conditions.

The team, led by Professor Daniel Jacobson, a computational systems biologist at the lab, looked at more than 40,000 genes from 17,000 genetic samples of the coronavirus.

They input the data into Summit, the second fastest super-computer in the world, which analysed 2.5 billion genetic combinations over a week.

This helped the scientists to understand the genetic make-up of the virus, how that could interact with the human body and what symptoms it could cause. 

After analysing the results, the team believe the coronavirus interferes with the renin–angiotensin system (RAS), which controls bradykinin levels.  


Researchers from King's College London have developed a symptom-tracking app which has seen millions of Britons sign up and report their symptoms. 

The full list of symptoms, in order of how predictive they are of the disease, include:

1. Loss of smell/taste

2. Persistent cough

3. Fatigue

4. Loss of appetite

5. Skin rash

6. Hives

7. Fever

8. Severe muscle pain

9. Shortness of breath

10. Diarrhoea

11. Delirium

12. Abdominal pain

13. Chest pain

14. Hoarse voice

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15. Eye soreness

16. Sore or painful throat

17. Nausea or vomiting


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