[VIDEO] Watch how COVID-19 turns lung cells into 'virus factories'

Dr. Lawler

It's hard to understand an invisible (to us) disease. Virus particles are tiny, which makes it tricky to visualize their wicked work.

That's why the University of Nebraska Medical Center iEXCEL team created larger-than-life, colorful animations that are easy to see and understand.

Watch infectious diseases expert James Lawler, MD, MPH, show exactly how the coronavirus can get inside your cells – and how the vaccine protects us.

How lung cells become virus factories:

•    A viral particle binds to a human lung cell
•    Once in the cell, the virus releases its genetic code
•    The human cell makes viral proteins
•    The viral proteins hijack the lung cell and turn it into a virus factory
•    The cell produces viral proteins that infect other cells – and other people

Why the delta variant is different:

•    Better at getting into cells (binding to cell receptors) than previous versions of COVID-19
•    Better at turning your cells into virus factories
•    Produces many more new virus particles
•    1,000 times more infectious, compared to previous versions of COVID-19

How vaccines protect us:

•    The spike protein and the cell receptor normally fit like a key inside a lock
•    But, the vaccines produce high levels of neutralizing antibodies
•    These antibodies block the viral particle from the cell receptor
•    The viral particle can't enter the cell (locked outside the cell)
•    The viral particle is stuck outside the cell and gets killed by the body's immune system