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COVID-19 gets a new, more accurate look thanks to 3D printed model in Kansas City

Coronavirus in Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KSNW) – The University of Kansas Health System showed off a new model of what COVID-19 really looks like.

We’re all used to seeing the round sphere with red spikes, but that’s not actually what the virus looks like, according to experts.

Artist rendering of COVID-19 virus

“The red thing is just more of an artistic representation, this is actually more scientific,” said Dr. Steve Stites, Chief Medical Officer at the University of Kansas Health System. “This is just a much more accurate representation.”

The health system’s neurology department just got a new 3D printer. One of the first things printed on it was a spike protein. A spike protein is what each of those red spikes on the COVID-19 drawing or animation is called.

Doctors showed off the new 3D printed model during a briefing Tuesday morning. They said each of those red spikes actually looks more like the model below.

3D-printed model of COVID-19 spike protein
Courtesy: University of Kansas Health System

The doctors said it’s the blue area of the model that attaches to and attacks cells in the body.

They explained that when you receive a COVID-19 vaccine, the antibody response essentially covers up those blue areas so they can’t attach to cells in your body.

The model took 22 hours to print. The health system said it will be used to educate patients and show how the COVID-19 vaccines protect the body against the virus.

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