As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread around the globe, physicians are learning more about its effects on the body. interviewed leading experts to find out more about what we know now about how the novel coronavirus affects the lungs.

“I think in terms of the basics – inflammation, [acute respiratory distress syndrome], the need to go to the ICU in a proportion of patients – it’s very similar to other viruses we know about,” [says lung pathologist Dr. Sajay Mukhopadhyay, MD, a lung pathologist with the Cleveland Clinic]. “There just seem to be some peculiarities about COVID.”

Mukhopadhyay said those peculiarities include how rapid coronavirus continues to spread around the globe, and its high mortality rate compared to other viruses such as influenza. Even those perceptions could change over time, though, as medical experts gather more data.

“Those might turn out to be different. But every day, those numbers change, so it’s impossible to tell whether it will eventually turn out to be different, or be the same,” Mukhopadhyay said.

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Featured image: Colorized scanning electron micrograph of a VERO E6 cell (blue) heavily infected with SARS-CoV-2 virus particles (green), isolated from a patient sample. Image captured and color-enhanced at the NIAID Integrated Research Facility in Fort Detrick, Maryland. Image courtesy NIAID.