Scientists have created images of the novel coronavirus that infects airway cells grown in the laboratory. These results illustrate the number of virus particles that are produced and released per cell in the lungs.
The researchers, including Camille Ehre from the University of North Carolina’s Children’s Research Institute (UNC), captured these images to illustrate how intense SARS-CoV-2 respiratory infection can be in very graphic and easy-to-understand images.
The high-performance microscopic images generated show large numbers of virus particles on human respiratory surfaces that are ready to spread infection through tissue and other people.
In their research, the scientists inoculated the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 in human bronchial epithelial cells of the lungs, which they examined 96 hours later using high-performance scanning electron microscopy.
The images, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, have been re-colored and show infected hairy ciliated cells with strands of mucus attached to the tips of cilia.
The scientists explained that the cilia are hair-like structures on the surface of airway epithelial cells that carry mucus and trapped viruses out of the lungs.
Using a higher power magnification, they demonstrated the structure and density of SARS-CoV-2 produced by human airway epithelia.
These virus particles, the researchers say, are the full, infectious form of the virus that is released into the airways by infected host cells.
They said imaging research helps illustrate the incredibly high number of virions that are produced and released per cell in the human respiratory tract.
According to the scientists, the high viral load is a source of the spread of the infection to multiple organs of an infected individual and likely mediates the high frequency of COVID-19 transmission to others.
They said the images make a strong case for the use of masks by infected and uninfected people to limit SARS-CoV-2 transmission.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and published from a syndicated feed.)