On Thursday (Feb. 13), the Rocky Mountain Laboratories (RML) at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases revealed some of the first images of COVID-19.
Researchers at RML imaged samples of the virus and cells taken from a U.S. patient infected with COVID-19 using two different kinds of high-resolution microscopes — the scanning electron microscope and the transmission electron microscope.
Both use a focused beam of electrons rather than a beam of light to image samples. (The color is added later to the images.)
The COVID-19 virus looks similar to the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), which emerged in 2012, and the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV), which emerged in 2002, according to a statement.
That’s because all three of these viruses are in the same family of “coronaviruses,” which are named for their crown-like appearance (most apparent in the transmission electron image). The word “corona” in Latin means “crown.”
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