A coronavirus infection can mow down the forests of hairlike cilia that coat our airways, destroying a crucial barrier to keeping the virus from lodging deep in the lungs.
Normally, those cilia move in synchronized waves to push mucus out of the airway and into the throat. To protect the lungs, objects that don’t belong — including viral invaders like the coronavirus — get stuck in mucus, which is then swallowed (SN: 9/15/20).
But the coronavirus throws that system out of whack. When it infects respiratory tract cells, the virus appears to clear tracts of cilia, and without the hairlike structures, the cells stop moving mucus, researchers report July
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