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Chemist's Guide to the COVID-19 Outbreak

Relative sizes of common microorganisms, molecules and cellular components


The COVID-19 pandemic has created a plethora of misinformation regarding viruses, transmission, eradication, and prevention. This information brief is an attempt to organize all of the pertinent information from a chemistry point of view.

The COVID-19 pandemic is not humanities first (nor will it be our last) pandemic. Outbreaks of disease which have led to pandemics have been frequent throughout history, including the smallpox outbreaks which decimated the Incan empire in the 1500’s to the more recent SARS pandemic and the Ebola epidemics of the past decades.

The first description of a virus was in 1892 when tobacco plants were dying from an unknown non-bacterial agent. Later, in 1898 this agent was found to be the tobacco mosaic virus. It wasn’t until the first electron microscopes that the actual virus structures were observed in the 1930’s. Since those early discoveries, there have been over 5,000 additional viruses detailed with millions more still uncharacterized in the environment. Viruses are persistent and found in almost all types of earth ecosystems.

Click to see the Complete Chemist's Guide to the COVID-19 Outbreak

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