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Incredible Images Show The Moment The New Coronavirus Infects A Cell


Dr. Alfredo Carpineti

Senior Staff Writer & Space Correspondent

clockApr 10 2020, 17:01 UTC

SARS-CoV-2 (black dots) attahced to the membrane of a cell they are about to infect. Débora F. Barreto-Vieira / IOC / Fiocruz.

Brazilian researchers from the Oswaldo Cruz Institute (Fiocruz) studying how the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 attacks and infects cells in the human body have produced incredible images of the moment the virus infects a cell. The virus has now infected over 1.5 million people across the world. 

The team from the research institute used viruses isolated from samples taken from the nose and throat of an infected patient. They were placed in a petri dish with cells from an African green monkey, a primate common in Central East Africa.


By using electron microscopy, the team captured the first image of the virus in Brazil (a few teams around the world have snapped the virus already), catching the virus in the act of entering and infecting the cell. The images follow the virus from when it first attaches itself to the cell membrane, through the beginning of the infection, to the reproduction inside the cell, until they exit starting the cycle anew.

Annotated version of the virus attached to the cell membrane. Débora F. Barreto-Vieira / IOC / Fiocruz & IFLScience


The virus (black blob) as it entering the nucleus membrane. Débora F. Barreto-Vieira / IOC / Fiocruz.
The white region full of black dots are the many replicated virus present inside the cell. Débora F. Barreto-Vieira / IOC / Fiocruz.
Virus seen leaving the cell. Débora F. Barreto-Vieira / IOC / Fiocruz.

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has received plenty of criticism – both inside his country and out – for his dismissal of the virus and its quick spread. In fact, criminal gangs are the ones currently enforcing curfew and lockdown measures in Rio de Janeiro, the country's second-most populous municipality. Over 18,000 people have developed COVID-19 in Brazil so far, with 957 deaths.

[H/T: Veja]

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