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The First Person To Detect Corona Virus

Nearly six decades ago, microbiologist June Almeida found a new strain of the thorn-shaped virus through a microscope developed by her.

       Microbiologist June Almeida works in the laboratory. Photo: National Geographic.

When June Almeida peered through the electron microscope in 1964, she saw a bright, colored dot covered by tiny spines. Almeida and colleagues noticed that the thorns formed an aura around the virus like a corona. What Almeida sees is the corona virus, and she plays a key role in identifying it. That achievement is even more noticeable because the 34-year-old scientist has never completed formal training.

Born June Hart, Almeida lives with his family in an apartment in Glasgow, Scotland. Her father is a bus driver. She is a poor student with good academic background and dreams of going to college. At 16, Almeida dropped out of school and began working as a laboratory technician at the Royal Glasgow Clinic, where she used a microscope to analyze tissue samples.

After moving to a similar position at St Bartholomew Hospital in London, England, Almeida met her husband, a Venezuelan artist. They immigrated to Canada, and Almeida works with electron microscopes at the Ontario Cancer Institute in Toronto. There, Almeida developed a new technique and published a number of studies describing the construction of viruses that had never been observed before.

The microscopic technique that Almeida developed was simple but helped revolutionize the field of microbiology. The electron microscope shines the flow of electrons into the sample, then records the interaction of the particles with the specimen surface. Because electrons have slightly shorter wavelengths than light, this process allows for clearer and more detailed images than conventional microscopes. But researchers often have difficulty if microscopic spheres are viruses, cells or other similar objects.
Corona virus observed through electron microscopy. Photo: National Geographic.
To solve the problem, Almeida realized she could use antibodies taken from infected people to identify the virus. Because antibodies are attracted to the corresponding antigen, when the sample adds microscopic particles covered with antibodies, they will gather around the virus, revealing its presence.

 This technique helps doctors use electron microscopes to diagnose viral infectious diseases in patients. Almeida progresses to identifying a range of viruses, including measles, a disease that leads to complications during pregnancy. Scientists have been studying measles for decades, but Almeida was the first to observe this virus.

Once the qualification was granted, Almeida returned to London and worked at St. Hospital Medical School. Thomas. There, in 1964, she met Dr. David Tyrrell, manager of the Cold Research Unit in Salisbury, Wiltshire, England. Tyrrell's team collected samples of a virus resembling the influenza virus B814 from a student in Surrey, but had difficulty cultivating it in a laboratory. When traditional methods failed, researchers began to suspect B814 could be a new virus.

Without many options, Tyrrell sent samples to Almeida, hoping her microscope technique could help identify the virus. Although Almeida had little material to work with, what she discovered exceeded Tyrrell's expectations. Not only did she find and create a clear picture of the virus, but she also remembered seeing two similar viruses in previous research, once considering chicken bronchitis and when studying hepatitis B in mice.

 Almeida has written articles on both types, but declined to publish. The review panel said the photographs were only poor quality photographs of seasonal flu virus particles. With samples from Tyrrell, Almeida was convinced they had found a new family of viruses.

As Tyrrell, Almeida and her instructor gathered to discuss the findings, they wondered what to call them new viruses. They took inspiration from the virus's crown-shaped structure while reviewing the photographs and decided to call them Latin corona viruses.
Almeida retired in 1985. Before she died in 2007 at the age of 77, she returned to working as a counselor at St. Petersburg Hospital. Thomas and help publish some of the first high-quality images of the HIV virus.
"Without a doubt, Almeida is one of the most prominent Scottish scientists of her generation, but sadly she is almost forgotten. Covid-19 is again reminiscent of her work," Hugh Pennington, emeritus professor of microbiology at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, who previously worked with Almeida at St. Petersburg Hospital. Thomas, comment. Today, researchers still use Almeida's technology to identify viruses quickly and accurately.

According to National Geographic.........

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