Creepy images show airway cells teeming with SARS-CoV-2

Striking new images show a close-up view of the novel coronavirus as it invades cells that line the human airway. The images provide a glimpse of the staggering number of virus particles that are produced during an infection — indeed, infected cells can churn out virus particles by the thousands.

Camille Ehre, an assistant professor at University of North Carolina School of Medicine’s Marsico Lung Institute, captured the images with a scanning electron microscope, a device that uses a focused beam of electrons to produce images. To obtain the images, published Wednesday (Sept. 2) in The New England Journal of Medicine, researchers first infected human airway cells with SARS-CoV-2 — the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 — in lab dishes, and then examined the cells after four days.

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