It is time to answer all the questions raised in the beginning of this article.Corona virus was discovered by a Scottish woman scientist June Almeidahalf a century ago. (information acknowledged to Sydney Combs, National Geographic) published in April 18, 2020.
June Almeida was born Hart, she lived wth her family in a tenement building in Glasgow, Scotland, where her father worked as a bus driver. She was a bright student with ambition to attend university, but money was scarce. At 16, she left school and started working as a laboratory technician at Royal Infirmary, where she used microscopes to help analyze tissue samples.
After moving to similar job at St. Batholomew’s Hospital in London. There she met her husband, Venezuelan Enriques Almeida. The pair immigrated to Canada. Mrs. Almeida got a job working with electron microscopes at the Ontario Cancer Institute in Toronto. There she developed new techniques and published many papers describing the structures of viruses previously unseen.
New way of seeing with the electron microscope:
She developed simple, yet revolutionary methods in the field of virology. When working with microscopic particles, it is hard to know exactly what to look for. An Electron microscope blasts a beam of electrons and record the particles interactions with the specimen surface. Since electrons have much shorter wave lengths than light, this shows scientists with an image with much finer, smaller detail. The challenge is discerning if a tiny blob is a virus, a cell, or something else.
To solve the problem, Almeida realized she could use antibodies taken from previously infected individuals to pin point the virus. Antibodies are drawn=to their antigen counterparts–so when Almeida introduced tiny particles coated in antibodies they would congregate around the virus alerting her to its presence. This pioneering method was used as a tool in electron microscopy by clinicians who studied infection of viruses.
She went on to identify, a host of other viruses, including rubella, that causes complications in pregnancies, causes three day measles, Almeida was the first to see and record it. She remembered viruses while looking at bronchitis in chickens and while studying hepatitis liver inflammations in mice.
Later, while helping Dr. David Tyrrell of Salisbury, Wiltshire, Ameida found, and created the clear images of the virus and she was confident that these viruses were a new group of viruses. It had a halo like structure and was named Corona.. Today’s Corona virus was born with the identification by Almeida 50 years ago.
Retired from Virology, Almeida remained active and curious. She became a yoga teacher, restored fine china, a sharp eye for antiques. An Emeritus Professor of Bacteriology at the University o Aberdeen, Hugh Pennington described Almeda as his mentor. “Without doubt she is one of the outstanding Scittish scientists.of her generation.”
Now sadly forgotten, ironically, this Corona outbreak has shone a light again on her work in the 21st century. Almeida’s work is more relevant now.