You can now look at the SARS-CoV-2 virus up close – at the atomic level, in fact – thanks to a scientifically accurate 3D model created by a biomedical visualization studio with the help of leading virologists.

The video by Visual Science, which is just over a minute long, lends fresh insight into the intricate structure of the deadly virus by painstakingly detailing how it functions – and how our bodies fight it. At the start of the video, we are told that the novel coronavirus at the center of the ongoing pandemic is a mere 1/1,000th the width of a human hair. Thanks to cutting-edge modelling tech, though, we are able to see the molecular structure of the virus up close.

The designers adopted a bold color scheme in order to make the different parts of the virus easily distinguishable. The green core of the virus represents its RNA genome, while the surrounding red shell is a membrane taken from a host cell, within which the virus lives and multiplies. 

The SARS-CoV-2 virus has a highly textured surface and spikes, which it uses to bind itself to host cell receptors. The video also shows interactions between the virus and the antibodies that attack it as the human body tries to kill off the invading infection.

The award-winning design studio has previously modelled and visualized the HIV, influenza H1N1 and Ebola viruses in the same way.

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