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Stanford researcher characterizes the coronavirus as a 'parasite'

Stanford researcher, Dr. Michael Lin, a neurobiologist and leading expert on the coronavirus explains the properties of the virus

Posted: Mar 27, 2020 8:30 AM
Updated: Mar 27, 2020 9:13 AM

CHICO, Calif. – What are researchers learning about the coronavirus? How does it live, how does it spread and what role are humans playing in helping it thrive?

Action News Now Morning Anchor Julia Yarbough put that question to Stanford professor Dr. Michael Lin; a neurobiologist and one of the leading researchers working on the coronavirus.

Yarbough asked Dr. Lin, “Is this virus alive, is it not, how do we get rid of it and if it's not alive, how do we kill it? And if it's not alive how does it ‘live’ on a surface?”

“Viruses kind of live in this grey zone between living and dead. They're alive in a sense that they can reproduce but depend on a host,” explains Dr. Lin.

“It’s best to think of them as a parasite. They are parasitic things that will reproduce inside a person."

“Because the virus can reproduce in people it will grow to large numbers and each infected person can infect many more people, who are known as super-spreaders that have infected 70 people, huge numbers from a single person.”

On average the virus tends to infect two or three other people before the patient is healed so that number is big, because if each infects two to three others, we get into this rapidly number of cases over time. It is very important to practice social distancing so we can break this chain of transmission, so projections show 50 percent of the population can be infected by June, that's how rapidly the virus spreads.”

Dr. Lin says the positive aspects of the coronavirus include the fact this virus is not one that mutates quickly. He says that gives researchers more time to figure it out. He adds, the virus does not live for long if it doesn’t have a host; describing it as a ‘weak’ virus.

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