Can microscopes see the COVID-19 virus?

In these uncertain times… don’t worry, we’ll spare you the marketing jargon. But there really was a time when things felt very uncertain when it came to discussing the COVID-19 virus. But thanks to extensive research, we know quite a lot about the virus, including what it looks like. So, are you too afraid to ask? Can microscopes see the COVID-19 virus?

Viruses after all are extremely small and can’t be seen by standard microscopes. The deluge of marketing materials we have seen so far all seem to suggest that the virus is round and has little spikes around it. So is that a guess, or can we say for sure what it looks like?

How can microscopes see the VOID-19 virus?

It’s true that a standard microscope, like the one you probably used in high school biology, can’t be used to see a virus. But special microscopes, in particular electron microscopes, can. 

Check out the image below from science

COVID-19 Virus under an electron microscope

The yellow specs you’re seeing are COVID-19 particles from a human patient. So the answer is yes — a microscope can actually see the COVID-19 virus. Although it should be noted that the colors we see are digitally added after the photo is taken and are not reflective of the virus’s true color.

Does the COVID-19 virus have spikes?

Here’s another interesting image from

COVID-19 "spikes" as seen under a microscope

Here are those infamous “spikes” around the virus that we can’t seem to see enough of. Although this is no surprise that this imagery is common as most types of corona viruses, such as SARS and MERS, have the same appearance. In fact, the “corona” in coronavirus means “crown,” alluding to the crown of spikes around the virus.

Closer to a cure

From “uncertain times” to a wealth of knowledge, microscopes have certainly played their part in getting us through this mess. Our journey to the end of the pandemic is likely far from over, but recent developments in a possible vaccine give us hope. While the coronavirus was, to the general public, an invisible enemy at the start of the pandemic, powerful microscopes have put a face to the threat and unlocked huge breakthroughs on the path to an effective vaccine.