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Shafia London.
Shafia London.
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By Shafia London

Spread of viruses

The way that viruses spread is specific to the type of virus. Viruses can be spread through 1. carrier organisms – mosquitoes, fleas 2.  the air 3. direct transfer of body fluids from one person to another — saliva, sweat, nasal mucus, blood, semen, vaginal secretions and, 4.  surfaces on which body fluids have dried.

The COVID-19 virus travels through infectious respiratory droplets. Respiratory droplets are produced when a person coughs, sneezes or talks. The droplets fall to a surface. If someone touches that surface, then touches their face, they can get the COVID-19  virus.

Viruses can exist for a long time outside the body. Virus-laden droplets can land on doorknobs, remote controls, handrails, or countertops — and spread the virus to anyone who then touches these surfaces. A preliminary study showed that the coronavirus could last for up to three days on certain surfaces. It is also possible to have someone sneeze or cough directly towards you, though infectious droplets can only really travel a maximum of about six feet before falling to the ground.

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Let us examine some of the methods that claim to reduce the spread:

Natural immunity

This is the first time ever this novel coronavirus is circulated in humans. It is not more powerful, per se, than other viruses. But when it enters the human body, we have no pre-existing defences since our bodies do not immediately recognize it as a dangerous intruder. We do not have any natural way to guard against it only to fight it once we have been infected.

Covering your hand and or nose when you sneeze or cough:

The idea is to prevent the spread of the virus through the spray of droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Washing hands

The coronavirus is named after the crownlike spikes that protrude from its surface. The virus is enveloped in a bubble of oily lipid molecules, which falls apart on contact with soap. The water-shunning tails of the soap molecules wedge themselves into the lipid membrane and pry it apart

Alcohol based hand sanitizers

Alcohol is effective at killing enveloped viruses, including the coronavirus, but is less effective at killing non-enveloped viruses. Alcohol unfolds and inactivates their proteins. This process, which is called denaturation, will cripple and often kill the virus. Many research studies have found that an alcohol concentration of 60% or greater is needed to be effective.

Lime or Lemon

Lime as a disinfectant — possibly yes. Lime consumed — not really.

Mildly acidic ingredient such as 7 or 8% citrus acid in lemon or lime juice is good against many viruses. Not all viruses are the same, but research has found that lime kills HIV for example. At a 10% concentration outside the body, lime juice can inactivate HIV within five minutes. The citric acid — or the citrate molecule  keeps virus and the cell apart. The citrate molecule binds to the virus capsid — the virus particle. That particle normally binds to the host cell, but if that capsid is already occupied with the citrate, it cannot connect to the cell. Remember viruses must bind to a cell in order to enter it or in order to inject its content. Without a host cell, viruses are useless!

Lime consumed — NO. Lime has citric and ascorbic acids and taste sour, but they are alkaline-generating once they have been digested and absorbed. While lime juice may make the pH of the urine more alkaline, it does not have the same effect on the pH of your blood. Your body needs to maintain pH levels between 7.35–7.45 for your cells to function properly. You will need to eat the equivalent of 18lbs (8 kg) of limes — all in one sitting to increase your blood pH by just 0.2. If your blood pH values fall outside this normal range, you are in a condition called metabolic acidosis or metabolic alkalosis, which can be dangerous or even fatal if left untreated.

What medical doctors would tell you is that lime juice, if regularly consumed, provides vitamin C and antioxidants which can strengthen your immune system and help your body fight off infections such as those caused by viruses.

In our next release, we will look at more claims of preventing the spread of virus such as antibiotics, vaccines, social distancing and wearing masks and in our final release we compare COVID-19 to the flu virus.


Shafia London holds a BSc (1st Hons) Major Biochemistry and Double Minors in Communication and Human Resource Management from the University of the West Indies. She is a MSc Biochemical Engineering Graduate of the world-renowned University College London. Before returning to the Caribbean, she worked briefly as a researcher with University College London studying the use of Pichia pastoris in commercial vaccine production through recombinant DNA techniques. She then switched to business and is now completing an MBA and is the Commercial Manager, Banks Holdings Ltd group of companies — manufacturers of Banks beer, Deputy Beer, Plus, PineHill Dairy juices and Milks among other popular products