Udayavni Special

June Almeida: The woman who discovered the first Coronavirus

Team Udayavani, Apr 20, 2020, 11:33 AM IST

June Almeida, daughter of a Scottish bus driver was the woman who discovered first human coronavirus in 1964.She was internationally renowned virologist who pioneered new methods for viral imaging and diagnosis.

The new virus Covid-19 is a variant of the Coronavirus, which Dr. Almeida discovered in the laboratory of St Thomas’s Hospital of London in 1964.

June Almedia was born in 1930 in Glasgow, Scotland. Almeida left school at 16 years old because she was unable to obtain funds to go to university. However, she began training as a technician in histopathology at the Glasgow Infirmary and later transferred to St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London. After marrying an artist, Dr Almeida emigrated to Canada she joined the Ontario Cancer Institute in Toronto as electron microscopy technician.

Here, she discovered a method that helped in better visualizing viruses by using antibodies to aggregate them. After this, she returned to work at St Thomas’s Hospital Medical School in London and at that time Dr David Tyrrell was running research at the common cold unit in Salisbury in Wiltshire.

He later approached Dr June and after examining the specimens sent to her, she described it as like influenza viruses, but not the same. Later, her discovery was known as the first human coronavirus.

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