Optics Mag is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Read more.

What Does Covid Look Like Under a Microscope? (With Pictures)

Last Updated on

man using microscope

The novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) was first detected in the city of Wuhan, China, at the very end of 2019. When it was discovered, few scientists knew what COVID-19 looked like, which is vitally important when seeking a cure for any disease. Of course, viruses like covid are microscopic, so seeing them with the naked eye is impossible. It wasn’t long, however, until the new and deadly coronavirus was isolated and photographed using electron microscopes.

The Covid virus has been labeled as a “coronavirus” because, like other similar viruses, it has a “crown” (i.e., corona) of spikes that stick out of its surface. As with other viruses, Covid is made up of genetic material wrapped in a layer of protein. The virus would look like a nondescript, round blob if that were it. But, with COVID-19, the virus has S-proteins sticking out of it that look like tiny spikes. In short, Covid looks like a ball with spikes under a microscope, with the points tapering off where they’re attached to the “ball.”

microscope 2 divider

How Is the COVID-19 Disease Transmitted?

corona virus

Image Credit: Thor Deichmann, Pixabay

Although we have been constantly told to avoid touching surfaces that the covid-19 virus might infect, the most common way it spreads is via airborne droplets and particles that are contaminated with the virus. These droplets and particles are typically spread from talking, coughing, and sneezing, which is why wearing masks and avoiding crowded places is critical to stop the spread of the disease.

Is Covid Caused by a Virus or Bacteria?

It’s important to know that a virus, not a bacteria, causes covid. You can treat a bacterial infection with antibiotics but not viruses (which is why a vaccine was needed). While it is true that some people who contract COVID-19 will also develop a bacterial infection, the infection is secondary to the virus and not the cause. That’s why some people with COVID-19 are prescribed antibiotics. However, the drugs eliminate the bacterial infection but do not affect the Covid virus.

What Part of the COVID-19 Virus Makes You Sick?

The Covid virus has several parts, as we’ve seen. One of the parts is the so-called “spike proteins” (aka S proteins) that make covid look like a ball with spikes coming out of it. The S proteins are the main culprit in infecting humans as they pave the way for the attack. The protein spikes do their dirty work by penetrating healthy cells and allowing the Covid virus to enter them. Once inside, the virus replicates itself using the cell as a host. 

man coughing

Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

What Was the Origin of COVID-19?

According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIH), the origin of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that caused the COVID-19 pandemic, still hasn’t been specifically identified. The NIH says their research suggests the virus was transmitted to humans from an unidentified animal but didn’t specify which animal.

They also say that many misleading and false allegations have been made about where COVID-19 originated. For example, many have alleged that the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, China is where COVID-19 started. It was involved in studying bat coronaviruses, and the first human victims of the covid virus were in Wuhan, China. However, they say that the coronaviruses being studied there were so different from SARS-CoV-2 that it’s doubtful the Institute was at fault.

 

Can COVID-19 Spread Through Water While Swimming?

Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, many people have worried they could catch the virus while swimming. The good news is that this fear is unfounded and catching the virus from “infected” water is impossible.

The primary way that COVID-19 is transmitted from one human to another is from contaminated air droplets and airborne particles. In other words, the biggest risk of getting covid is when you’re near someone who is infected and breathe in the same air that they’re breathing out.

What Are the 3 C’s of Covid?

When the coronavirus first started, much of the world was in a panic, trying to figure out how to prevent the disease from spreading. Over the last couple of years, many different theories have come and gone about how the virus spreads, but three of them have remained and are now considered the “3 C’s of Covid”. They include:

1. Closed Spaces

classroom

Image Credit: Product School, Unsplash

Closed spaces are anywhere that’s considered enclosed, like a room, home, car, train, airplane, and even something as large as a conference center. Basically, if it’s not outside, any space can be considered a closed space.


2. Crowded Places

people in the city

Image Credit: StockSnap, Pixabay

Crowded places, as we now know, include restaurants, government buildings, gyms, offices, and anywhere that people gather together in large numbers. Sports arenas, schools, and churches are also some of the crowded spaces where Covid can easily spread.


3. Close-Contact Settings

group of people in the office

Image Credit: Piqsels

Closed-contact settings are very similar to #1 and #2. For example, a restaurant where people sit close together at tables and on bar stools is a close-contact setting. Office buildings with multiple employees are another, as well as train stations, courthouses, weddings, funerals, and birthday parties.


Which Organs Are Most Affected by COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a virus and disease that affects the lungs more than any other organ. That’s why respirators were in such high demand at the start of the pandemic. However, it can also harm other vital organs, including the brain, heart, and kidneys. Unfortunately, some people develop long-term health problems after contracting the COVID-19 virus. The long-term problems cause even more complications for healthy organs, including Guillain-Barre syndrome, stroke, and kidney damage. 

Are Masks Truly Effective in Reducing the Spread of COVID-19?

Yes, masks are effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19. The basic mechanics of wearing a mask are that when you talk, breathe, cough or sneeze, the minuscule air droplets that come out of your mouth are stopped by the mask. Yes, the Coronavirus is small enough to fit through the mask material. However, the mask still slows the transmission down by preventing air droplets from entering your lungs. 

What Is the Best Household Disinfectant To Kill the Coronavirus on Surfaces?

A typical household disinfectant, including Lysol and any other brand, effectively kills the Coronavirus on all surfaces when used correctly and diligently.

Spray

Image Credit: Squirrel_photos, Pixabay

microscope 2 divider

Final Thoughts

As we’ve seen, the Covid virus looks like a ball with many spikes under a microscope. The spikes are how the virus attaches itself to human cells, allowing it to enter and spread the disease we now know as COVID-19.

Corona is the Latin word for crown, and thus the reason COVID-19 and other Coronaviruses have this odd nickname. We hope our article has been helpful and given you the insight and knowledge about Covid you were seeking.


Featured Image Credit: Piqsels

About the Author Greg Iacono

Greg Iacono is a self-taught writer and former chiropractor who, ironically, retired early due to back problems. He now spends his time writing scintillating content on a wide variety of subjects. Greg is also a well-known video script writer known for his ability to take a complex subject and make it accessible for the layperson.

Greg Iacono Profile Picture