How Can Scientists Identify a Virus Such As SARS?

We don’t often think about how medicine works. We usually only want to be healed, whenever we get sick. But when such an important epidemic as the one we have lived with for the last few years comes about, we can ask ourselves how scientists work in order to identify the virus. Here is a short explanation. 

Tools to identify a Virus

In order to be able to identify the presence of a virus inside the body of a person, you need tools. In fact, that was the main issue at the beginning of the pandemic: The medical core lacked the means to indicate who was sick rapidly so that they could isolate them, in order to protect the others. Blood tests took too long to come back, and with so many being needed, it was simply an overload of work.

Thankfully, soon enough the use of a multi-mode microplate reader came to the rescue. Within twenty to thirty minutes, many samples could be analyzed and it would be determined who was infected and who wasn’t. As we know, today it is even simpler, as all one needs to do is to buy a test at the pharmacy, if he wants to find out if he is positive for the coronavirus.

How do Scientists determine that an Infectious Disease is involved?

There has been a lot of debate throughout the pandemic on what was true or false. Sometimes, when someone hasn’t learned about the scientific process, it makes it more complex to assimilate the information. If we want to understand how scientists can affirm that an infectious element is involved in a specific disease, we need to go back to the origin of knowledge. In this case, we have to roll back time, all the way to 1890, when Robert Koch created the rules, which scientists of today still use to make that determination. They are called the Koch’s Postulates, and here is what they say:

You need to determine if an infectious organism causes a specific disease:

  • The organism must be found in people with the disease and be absent in people without the disease
  • The organism must be able to be grown from tissues or other specimens from the affected individual in a laboratory
  • The organism must cause the disease when given to an unaffected healthy person
  • The organism must again be grown from this second individual

The case of the SARS Disease

If we apply these principles to the SARS that caused the pandemic, we quickly understand that the first two principles of Koch were respected. However, scientists don’t insert the virus into sane people, just to see if they will develop the symptoms. This part is done in laboratories, thanks again to multimode microplate readers that are used to help scientists understand the process of growth of the virus, in order to be able to create medicine that will effectively treat it, afterward. In the case of the coronavirus, the treatment they came up with was the vaccine that became obligatory, in most countries.