Scientists are for the first time giving real-life evidence of what COVID-19 looks like from inside the cells, and it reinstates one thing for sure, wearing the mask and maintaining social distancing.
Dr. Camille Ehre, Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina (UNC) Children’s Research Institute, generated the images of the COVID-19 virus particle crowding human bronchial epithelial cells in a laboratory setting.
To obtain the easy-to-understand images, scientists first inoculated the SARS-CoV-2 virus in a host cell – a human respiratory cell in this case. The image was then reportedly taken after 96 hours of infection using a scanning electron microscopy.
The images confirm just how quickly the virus multiplies which is evident from the numerous virus particles visible in the left image.
One can see in the first image, the infected ciliated cells with strands of mucus attached to the tip of the cilia. Cilia is a hair-like structure present in some cells which helps in locomoting substances like viruses trapped in the mucus (or other as applicable).
The second image -100nm, which is a higher magnification of the first reveals the viral setting in greater detail. It confirms the vast density of the SARS-CoV-2 virions (a single virus) produced in the airway epithelial cells, ready to infect other tissues in the body.
Scientists say a large viral load is a recipe for the spread of the virus to other parts of the body and thereby pose higher threats of transmission to other people.
The findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine after the original images were re-colorized. The researchers say these findings argue a strong case for wearing face masks to not only protect the self but for others.