Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Observing SARS-CoV-2 virus produced by human airways cells – see how they could be spread

26 September 2020


The virus that brought normal life to a grinding halt in early 2020 continues to wreak havoc across the world, with the current global death toll closing in on one million. It’s humbling to think that so much devastation can be caused by something so minuscule. Indeed, the SARS-CoV-2 virion particles (pink) shown here in this recently captured electron microscope image are somewhere between 50 and 200 nanometers in diameter. That’s approximately a sixtieth of the length of the hair-like cilia (blue) protruding from the human airway cell on which the particles lie. Each infected airway cell can produce potentially thousands of these virions that can either infect further cells or be expelled from the body via coughs, sneezes, or talking, floating off through the air to infect a new host. If nothing else, this image of our common foe should serve as a reminder to WEAR YOUR MASK.

Written by Ruth Williams

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