A research team in Hungary pinched the coronavirus with a fine needle to measure how much force it could take before popping like a balloon.
It did not.
The native virion of Sars-CoV-2 – a complete virus particle – was only about 80 nanometres wide, and the needle tip was much smaller than that. The tip drove from the top of the virus to the bottom. The virion was squashed, then immediately rebounded as the needle left.
The researchers repeated the drill 100 times and the same viral particle remained almost intact.
It is “surprisingly resilient,” said the team led by Dr Miklos Kellermayer of Semmelweis University in Budapest in a non-peer-reviewed paper posted on biorxiv.org on Thursday.
The new coronavirus has constantly surprised scientists with its unique structure. For instance, a team from Tsinghua University in Beijing released the most detailed structural reconstruction of the virus in the journal Cell this week with the discovery that the virus could pile a large amount of nucleic acid ribbon that carries genetic data into a very tight envelope without the two becoming entangled.