Scientists have produced images of the novel coronavirus infecting lab-grown respiratory tract cells, findings that demonstrate the number of virus particles that are produced and released per cell within the lungs. The researchers, including Camille Ehre from the University of North Carolina (UNC) Children’s Research Institute, captured these images to demonstrate how intense SARS-CoV-2 infection of the airways can also be in very graphic and easily understood images. The generated high-powered microscopic images show numerous the virus particles on human respiratory surfaces, able to spread infection across tissues, and to other people.
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In the research, the scientists inoculated the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 into human bronchial epithelial cells of the lungs, which they then examined 96 hours later the usage of the high-powered scanning electron microscopy.
The images, published in the New England Publication of Medicine, were re-colorised, and show infected hairy ciliated cells with strands of mucus attached to cilia tips. The scientists explained that the cilia are hair-like structures on the surface of airway epithelial cells that transport mucus and trapped viruses from the lungs. The usage of a higher power magnification, they showed the constitution and density of SARS-CoV-2 produced by human airway epithelia. These virus particles, the researchers said, are the total, infectious form of the virus released onto respiratory surfaces by infected host cells.
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They said the imaging research helps demonstrate the incredibly high number of virions produced and released per cell within the human respiratory system. According to the scientists, the large viral burden is a source for spread of infection to more than one 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 usage of masks by infected and uninfected individuals to limit SARS-CoV-2 transmission.