The United States National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) released new photos of the new coronavirus, responsible for the Covid-19 pandemic, as it attacks human cells. The images were made using an electron microscope and digitally colored.
According to NIAID, the records were made from material collected from an American patient, when the cells entered the state of apoptosis, a process also known as cell death. In the photos, the SARS-CoV-2 virus (specks) is on the surface of the cells (larger structure).
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As you can see, the virus is tiny compared to the cells in our body. That’s because these organisms are simple structures: the coronavirus consists of a single chain of RNA (genetic material) covered by a lipid bilayer and protein spikes – the so-called proteins spike.
Still, these infectious agents can cause real harm to anyone who is infected. To infect a cell, coronaviruses use its protein spike to bind to the host’s cell membrane. Once inside, the virus starts to command the cell, forcing it to replicate its genetic material thousands of times.
This happens until, eventually, the host cell becomes overloaded and dies, causing a “flood” of virus genetic material in the body, which leads to the contamination of new cells. And that is exactly that part of the process that NIAID captured in the new images.