Science

New, detailed images of novel coronavirus released by US lab

New, detailed images of novel ...
This transmission electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 – also known as 2019-nCoV – the virus that causes COVID-19
This transmission electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 – also known as 2019-nCoV – the virus that causes COVID-19
View 9 Images
This transmission electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 – also known as 2019-nCoV – the virus that causes COVID-19
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This transmission electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 – also known as 2019-nCoV – the virus that causes COVID-19
This transmission electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 colorized with different tones to better highlight the crown-like spikes protruding from the surface of the virus
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This transmission electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 colorized with different tones to better highlight the crown-like spikes protruding from the surface of the virus
This scanning electron microscope image shows the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2 (colored in orange), isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells (green) cultured in the lab
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This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (colored in orange) isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells (green) cultured in the lab
This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 colored yellow, emerging from the surface of cells (colored pink)
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This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 colored yellow, emerging from the surface of cells (colored pink)
Virus particles are shown emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab
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Virus particles are shown emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab
In this image the virus particles are colored yellow, shown emerging from the surface of cells colored blue and pink
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In this image the virus particles are colored yellow, shown emerging from the surface of cells colored blue and pink
The novel coronavirus particles colored orange, emerging from cells colored gray
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The novel coronavirus particles colored orange, emerging from cells colored gray
An image from 2012 of the MERS virus, another member of the coronavirus family
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An image from 2012 of the MERS virus, another member of the coronavirus family
An image from 2012 of the MERS virus, another member of the coronavirus family
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An image from 2012 of the MERS virus, another member of the coronavirus family
View gallery - 9 images

A laboratory in the United States has produced the most detailed images to date of the novel coronavirus currently spreading across the globe. The digitally colorized images illustrate the crown-like appearance of the virus, now officially named SARS-CoV-2 due to its similarity to the 2002 SARS virus.

The new images were produced by a team at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases' (NIAID's) Rocky Mountain Laboratories (RML) in Hamilton, Montana, who say the virus is notably similar in appearance to both the MERS and SARS viruses.

The images highlight the spikes covering the virus, an iconic feature of coronaviruses that led to its virus family name, corona being Latin for "crown." The images have been digitally colored in order to help visually separate the virus from surrounding cells and illustrate how the virus replicates and emerges from the surface of cells.

Virus particles are shown emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab
Virus particles are shown emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab

While the disease caused by the virus has been named Covid-19, the virus itself received a different title late last week when the International Committee of Taxonomy of Viruses named the pathogen SARS-CoV-2. The naming of the virus recognizes its similarity to the SARS virus, calling it a "sister to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronaviruses (SARS-CoVs)."

There has been confusion over the past week due to the virus and disease being given different names, unlike the recent SARS and MERS scenarios where the virus and disease were dubbed with similar titles. Some scientists have expressed frustration over the naming confusion, particularly with the new virus's name essentially being titled SARS version 2.

This scanning electron microscope image shows the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2 (colored in orange), isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells (green) cultured in the lab
This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (colored in orange) isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells (green) cultured in the lab

Mike Osterholm, from the University of Minnesota, suggests the virus name is confusing as the Covid-19 disease is very distinct from the SARS disease.

“Our hope is there is a reconsideration of the virus and disease naming and another effort made to reconcile the two, so they are more similar and more descriptive of what this virus is doing to humans and how it fits into coronavirus virology,” Osterholm said last week to Science Magazine.

As of February 17, there have been almost 70,000 confirmed cases and 1,670 deaths of Covid-19. The vast majority of cases are still confined to China, however, the very first confirmed case in Africa was recently reported in Egypt.

Source: NIAID

View gallery - 9 images
1 comment
meredithalleruzzo
Back during the SARS outbreak I was teaching ESL to adults near L.A. A large number of our students were from mainland China; I noticed several wearing masks. I was healthy so didn't think much about it- until I became deathly ill, ending up receiving breathing treatments, antibiotics, and a take-home inhaler in an urgent care. I was lucky, I guess, because one of our younger counselors was hospitalized with pneumonia. Although we were never diagnosed with SARS, I worked my way through grad school in an ER, thus familiar with resources to research conditions. We had all the symptoms. It was terrifying and I seriously worried that I might die. The virus' new name sent a chill up my spine- I never ever want to be that sick again. Public education is key to containing the outbreak, in my opinion, including basic hygiene practices and, unfortunately, staying away from gatherings of folks who might be at risk for carrying the virus (I have several good friends from China so this isn't ignorant xenophobia). My heart goes out to anyone suffering through the illness.