Stunning microscope images released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveal the new killer coronavirus in unprecedented detail.
Shown as blue dots, the virus, now dubbed SARS-CoV-19, can be seen roving around and invading human cells.
The sample is the first of its kind capture using a transmission electron microscope by CDC scientists.
It was taken from the first coronavirus patient in the US, a 36-year-old man from Snahomish County in Washington state, who recognized his own symptoms of the disease after traveling to Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak.
The CDC’s latest microscope image of the deadly new coronavirus shows its particles as blue spheres that have worked their way inside the walls of various types of human cells
Now, the outbreak has spread to more than 82,500 people worldwide, including 60 in the US, where the first case of a coronavirus patient with no obvious exposure – like travel to China, being a passenger on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, or contact with someone who falls into either category – suggests community spread may have started.
Scientists around the globe are scrambling to understand the new virus in order to develop optimal vaccines and treatments for the newly emerged disease before it claims the lives of any more than than the 2,800 victims it has already killed.
Viruses are strange, tiny beasts.
In fact they’re so small that they can’t be seen with a light microscope like you would find in most high school or college classrooms.
Instead, the CDC scientists had to use a more high-powered transmission electron microscope to see the particle.
A transmission electron microscope offers about a 1,000 times more powerful view of the tiny virus particles, called virion.
Under the microscope, the round, blue virus particles are visible sneaking into several different cell types. The more densely packed the blue particles are, the greater the viral load, or level of infection.
Because they’re so simplistic, viruses can’t survive and multiply on their own, which is why they have to find a host to live off of.