A Viral Primer

There seems to be some confusion between bacteria (prokaryotes) and viruses in the comments and personal discussions. I do not want to spend time here on bacteria but I want to clarify that antibiotics are effective on bacteria, not viruses.

How are viruses different from bacteria?

Even though they can both make us sick, bacteria and viruses are very different at the biological level. Bacteria are small and single-celled, but they are living organisms that do not depend on a host cell to reproduce. Because of these differences, bacterial and viral infections are treated very differently. For instance, antibiotics are only helpful against bacteria, not viruses. Bacteria are also much bigger than viruses.


Viral Types

There are 6 classes of viruses. The DNA viruses constitute classes I and II. The RNA viruses make up the remaining classes. Class III viruses have a double-stranded RNA genome. Class IV viruses have a positive single-stranded RNA genome, the genome itself acting as mRNA (messenger RNA. Class V viruses have a negative single-stranded RNA genome used as a template for mRNA synthesis. Class VI viruses have a positive single- stranded RNA genome but with a DNA intermediate not only in replication but also in mRNA synthesis.


2019-nCoV Genetics

nCoV genetics In a recently published paper, viral sequences collected from the earliest patients recognized in the ongoing nCoV-2019 outbreak were assessed and compared to known viral sequences. Sequence analysis of 11 samples found that nCoV-2019 is in the same species as SARS-CoV; the 2 viruses are 94.6% similar in amino acid sequence (80% nucleotide sequence similarity) across the genome. However, other studies do not consider nCoV-2019 to be the same species as SARS-CoV, as it differs from SARS-CoV by more than 10% in the replicase genes. Further analysis demonstrated that nCoV-2019 was less than 75% homologous to nearly all strains of SARS-CoV in the spike protein. (emphasis added). A single isolate of a bat coronavirus, named BatCoV RaTG13, shared 96.7% sequence homology with nCoV2019, suggesting nCoV-2019 originated in bats and shares a common ancestor with SARS-CoV. Other teams found nCoV2019 had over 85% sequence homology with bat SARS-like CoVs.

nCoV-2019’s S protein is most closely related to bat coronaviruses. In addition to the typical coronavirus structural proteins and replicase genes, nCoV-2019 has several currently unidentified nonstructural open reading frames in its genome. nCoV-2019 can be differentiated from other coronaviruses, including SARSCoV, using PCR primers specific to a highly variable region of the spike protein, meaning a PCR diagnostic test can differentiate this virus from other coronaviruses. Phylogenetic analysis of 30 publicly available nCoV-2019 samples concluded that emergence of nCoV-2019 into the human population likely occurred in mid-November 2019. (emphasis added). The sequences have limited variability in consensus sequences, suggesting the outbreak was initiated from either a single introduction into humans or from a very few animal-to-human transmission events. The mutation rate has been estimated in various groups, ranging from about 1.05×10–3 to1.26×10–3 substitutions per site per year, which is similar to some estimates of MERS-CoV mutation rates. As more viral genomes are made publicly available, scientists will better be able to track viral evolution and mutation rates, so the exact estimates will vary.



The 2019-nCoV is a single stranded, positive sense RNA virus. As stated above, antibiotics have no effect on it. Keep in mind that vaccines allow your body to produce antibodies to a bacteria or virus: it is not a cure once you are infected. The nCoV virus has a high mutation rate which renders a vaccine useless on a new RNA mutation.

The more information that you know concerning molecular biology, the more suspicious you will become concerning the origin of this “novel” virus.

David DeGerolamo

More information:


CRISPR – terrorists are us

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1 Response to A Viral Primer

  1. Timothy E. Tucker says:

    Anyone remember all the local cave closings due to bat diseases being present? I wonder if the PTB were trying to keep the general population from getting sick or were they trying to keep us from developing some immunity? I know they said it was to keep people from spreading bat disease to non-infected caves. TET.

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