This is what the deadly coronavirus looks like under a microscope

The vivid images show the virus behind the global COVID-19 health emergency.

This scanning electron microscope image of SARS-CoV-2 shows the coronavirus with a backdrop of cells in pink and blue.
For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO and CDC websites.

SARS-CoV-2 is the virus responsible for the disease COVID-19, which has claimed over 1,300 lives and sickened tens of thousands of people, primarily in the Hubei province of China where it originated. We are well aware of the frightening toll it is taking. Now we also have a better look at the virus itself.

The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) released new images of the virus on Thursday. 

NIAID's Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Montana used specialized equipment, scanning and transmission electron microscopes, to capture the digitally colorized close-ups. 

A transmission electron microscope captured this image of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, which has a distinctive crown-like appearance.


The virus sample used in the images was isolated from a patient in the US.   

The COVID-19 virus looks very similar to microscope images of related coronaviruses MERS and SARS. "That is not surprising: The spikes on the surface of coronaviruses give this virus family its name – corona, which is Latin for 'crown,' and most any coronavirus will have a crown-like appearance," NIAID said.

The World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a global emergency at the end of January. 

Here is everything we know about the virus, how it spreads, and what you can do to reduce your risk.

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