UNC study provides better understanding of how COVID-19 infects the lungs

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Saturday, June 13, 2020
UNC study provides better understanding of how COVID-19 infects the lungs
A new study from UNC provides some evidence as to how COVID-19 might infect the lung.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- A new study released by UNC researchers provides a better understanding of how coronavirus is transmitted while re-emphasizing the importance of wearing a mask.

"I think we were a little slow in appreciating that this virus was this contagious and this contagious by this route," explained Dr. Richard Boucher, the Director of the Marsico Lung Institute at UNC who worked on the study.

The team, comprised of members from the UNC School of Medicine and UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, discovered that the virus is likely to be initially transmitted through a person's nose.

"What happens that occurs is that virus is transported to the back of your throat and then unfortunately at night a lot of us get a little bit of that fluid which is normally known as saliva and then it gets into the lung. And that's how we think it gets into the lung in a way that's infection," Boucher explained.

The nose is particularly susceptible both due to its construct and the nature of this virus.

"It's a very fertile ground for viral infection particularly for this virus. So if you inhale the virus through your nose, it will set out in your nasal tissue and find fertile ground for growth, and ultimately blooming," said Boucher.

Outside of maintaining social distancing and wearing a facial covering, Dr. Boucher suggested people can wash their noses out.

"There are the famous Neti pots and what we call high volume rinsing devices which basically irrigate, or wash the nose out," explained Boucher.

On Friday, North Carolina saw 1,768 new cases, a record-high.

Gov. Roy Cooper said he hasn't yet made decisions on Phase 2.5 or Phase 3, but both are still possibilities.