Study: Eyes are 'important route' for coronavirus
The eyes are an important route for the coronavirus into the human body, according to University of Hong Kong research which found the strain was up to 100 times more infectious than severe acute respiratory syndrome and bird flu in two facial orifices tested by the public health experts.
Laboratory tests revealed the "virus level" of SARS-Cov-2 (the strain of coronavirus that causes the Covid-19 disease) was far greater than for Sars in the upper respiratory airways and conjunctiva, the cells lining the surfaces of the eyes.
The team led by Dr Michael Chan Chi-wai, from HKU's school of public health, became among the first researchers worldwide to provide evidence the coronavirus can infect humans through both entry points when it published its findings in the latest issue of The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.
"We culture tissues from the human respiratory tract and eyes in the laboratory and applied them to study the SARS-Cov-2, comparing it with Sars and H5N1. We found that SARS-Cov-2 is much more efficient in infecting the human conjunctiva and the upper respiratory airways than Sars, with virus level some 80 to 100 times higher," Dr Chan said.
"This explains the higher transmissibility of Covid-19 than that of Sars. This study also highlights the fact that eyes may be an important route of SARS-CoV-2 human infection," added Dr Chan.
(South China Morning Post)