THIS chilling virtual reality video shows how deadly coronavirus rapidly spreads through the lungs of a healthy individual – who had no symptoms days earlier.
Doctors at George Washington University in the US used 360-degree virtual reality technology to reveal the shocking reality of Covid-19 – and the widespread and potentially long-term damage it can cause.
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It comes as 183 countries have been affected by the pandemic – with over 530,000 cases worldwide and the death toll reaching over 24,000.
The medics captured the video while treating a man in his late fifties who was transferred to their hospital.
Just days before he arrived at the hospital, the patient, who has not been named, reportedly had no symptoms of coronavirus whatsoever.
However, according to CNN, by the time he was in the care of Dr Keith Mortman, chief of thoracic surgery at the hospital, the disease had wreaked havoc in his lungs.
The damage caused is clearly visible in the VR video as swaths of cloudy, green swaths of damaged tissue fill the man's lungs.
The man had been diagnosed with Covid-19 and put into isolation at another hospital, where he had nothing more than cold-like symptoms: fever, cough and shortness of breath.
Despite this, days later his condition began to deteriorate rapidly and doctors at the original hospital were forced to put the man on a ventilator.
But when that wasn't enough to stabilise him, he was taken to George Washington University (GWU) for urgent treatment.
Dr Mortman and his team converted scans of the man's lungs in to a virtual reality video that recreated the man's chest cavity in three-dimensions in 360 degrees.
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In a GWU podcast interview, Dr Mortman explains: "It becomes obvious very quickly that there's such a stark contrast between virus-infected, abnormal lung tissue and the more healthy adjacent lung tissue."
In the video, the bronchial tree – the system of airways that runs into and throughout the lung – is a more solid, strong blue, in most places.
However, green coloured inflamed tissue is clearly visible in many places throughout both lungs.
"It's such a contrast that you don't need an MD after your name to understand these images," said Dr Mortman.
"It's not isolated to any one part of the lung, there is damage to both lungs, diffusely.
"You can see the destruction that is being caused in the lungs and why these patients' lungs are failing to the point of needing a mechanical ventilator."
Around one out of every six who gets Covid-19 become seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Patients can develop pneumonia and swelling in the lungs, which can make it hard for the lungs to pass oxygen into the bloodstream – leading to organ failure and death.
Severe pneumonia can kill people by causing them to "drown" in the fluid flooding their lungs.
Dr Mortman explains: "It starts off as this viral infection then it becomes severe inflammation in the lungs and when that inflammation does not subside with time, it becomes, essentially, scarring…creating long-term damage and it could really impact somebody's ability to breathe in the long-term."
Severe cases will require a ventilator to be able to deliver enough oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Without one, the patient could die.
Currently, the NHS has just over 8,000 ventilators, the Government thinks it can procure a further 8,000 from existing domestic and international suppliers.
However, it estimates that the NHS will need at least 30,000 to deal with the potential flood of virus victims.
The Government has ordered 10,000 ventilators from Dyson to help deal with the coronavirus crisis.
The firm, headed by British inventor Sir James Dyson, said it had designed a new type of ventilator in response to a call on behalf of the NHS.
Dyson said the entirely new ventilator was called the "CoVent".
Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are at most risk developing serious illness.
However, the disease is affecting younger patients too – like the one Dr Mortman treated in the VR footage.
He added: "Young people are becoming infected with the virus and we're seeing more and more reports every day of younger patients being admitted to hospitals."
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