Thai virologist says Covid-19 does not affect the immune system like HIV does

PHOTO: Facebook/Anan Jongkaewwattana

A prominent Thai virologist has taken to Facebook to reassure people that Covid-19 does not destroy the immune system in the way the human immunodeficiency virus does. According to Dr Anan Jongkaewwattana, the Covid-19 virus affects T-cells in a similar manner to HIV, but the outcomes of both scenarios are completely different.

The virologist from the National Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology uses a study in the online journal, Nature, to illustrate his point. The study found that infected T-cells will destroy themselves, leading to a drop in the white blood cell count known as lymphopenia. In the same study, the Covid-19 virus was found to infect activated T-cells through a protein receptor.

However, the difference between Covid-19 and HIV is the lifespan of the infected cells. Covid-10 kills the T-cells, meaning very little of the virus can reproduce. In the case of HIV, the virus is able to use CD4 T-cells which help it to replicate.

According to a Nation Thailand report, Anan says HIV can also insert its ribonucleic acid into the DNA of the virus host. RNA is what carries the genetic code of a virus. When T-cells become activated and multiply, RNA is spread among the cells, causing them to repeatedly reproduce the virus, making it impossible to eradicate.

“Since SARS-CoV-2 causes infected T-cells to die without multiplying and the RNA of the virus does not mix with the DNA of the host cell, SARS-CoV-2 cannot create acquired immunodeficiency syndrome or AIDS like HIV does.”

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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