Scientists have developed photographs of the novel coronavirus that infects laboratory-grown respiratory tract cells, findings that demonstrate the number of virus particles created and released inside the lungs per cell.
The researchers, including Camille Ehre from the Children's Research Institute at the University of North Carolina (UNC), captured these pictures to demonstrate how severe SARS-CoV-2 infection of the airways can be through pictures.
The high-powered microscopic pictures created show a large number of virus particles on human respiratory surfaces that are ready to spread infection through tissues, and to others.
The researchers inoculated the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) into human bronchial epithelial lung cells, analysed 96 hours later using high-powered scanning electron microscopy. The photos, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, have been coloured again and show infected hairy ciliated cells with mucus strands attached to the tips of cilia.
The scientists clarified that the cilia on the surface of airway epithelial cells are hair-like structures that transport mucus and trapped viruses from the lungs. They demonstrated the structure and density of SARS-CoV-2 formed by human airway epithelia, using a higher power magnification.
Researchers said that, "These virus particles are infectious form of the virus released by infected host cells on the respiratory surfaces." They further added that the imaging research helps to explain the extremely large number of virions produced inside the human respiratory system and released per cell.
According to the scientists, the large viral burden is a source of infection spread to an infected individual's multiple organs, and is likely to mediate the high frequency of COVID-19 transmission to others. They said that it is important to use masks both by infected and uninfected individuals to restrict the transmission of SARS-CoV-2.
(Image Source: unhealthcare.org)