How SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) spreads within infected hosts - what we know so far.
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the causative agent of the ongoing pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), belongs to the betacoronavirus genus and shares high homology to the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) that emerged in 2003. These are highly transmissible and pathogenic viruses which very likely originated in bats. SARS-CoV-2 uses the same receptor, angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) as SARS-CoV, and spreads primarily through the respiratory tract. Although several trials for vaccine development are currently underway, investigations into the virology of SARS-CoV-2 to understand the fundamental biology of the infectious cycle and the associated immunopathology underlying the clinical manifestations of COVID-19 are crucial for identification and rational design of effective therapies. This review provides an overview of how SARS-CoV-2 infects and spreads within human hosts with specific emphasis on key aspects of its lifecycle, tropism and immunopathological features.