A Look at the Deadly, Spiky Covid-19 Particle
A magnified coronavirus germ illustration sits beside laboratory glassware during coronavirus vaccine research work inside the Pasteur Institute laboratories in Lille, France. (Photographer: Adrienne Surprenant/Bloomberg)  

A Look at the Deadly, Spiky Covid-19 Particle


(Bloomberg Businessweek) -- This is the particle responsible for Covid-19, the pneumonia-causing disease spreading around the world. The virus is called SARS-CoV-2, short for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2.

A Look at the Deadly, Spiky Covid-19 Particle

Like other coronaviruses, SARS-CoV-2 has viral spike proteins, called peplomers, on its surface that allow it to infect human cells.

Within the “envelope” of the virus is a long, single-stranded RNA genome.

A Look at the Deadly, Spiky Covid-19 Particle

• Targeting humans

SARS-CoV-2 spikes bind on the human cell surface to receptors called angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2).

• Infection sites

Human cells that express ACE2 are vulnerable to infection. These are present along the epithelium lining the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts, including on the tongue and stomach.

• Latching on

The spikes latch on to human cells and undergo a structural change, allowing their membrane to fuse with the host cell membrane. The viral genes can then enter the host cell and multiply.

• Lethal pneumonia

The vast surface area of the lungs makes it highly susceptible to inhaled viruses, with the alveoli sacs that help bring oxygen into the blood vulnerable to invasion.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Howard Chua-Eoan at hchuaeoan@bloomberg.net

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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