Podcast #11 COVID-19: Inside the body: body cells, viruses and how they cause disease

In this series, Timothy Trudgen and Biritjalawuy Goṉḏarra discuss the COVID-19 virus’ shape and transmission pathway. COVID-19 is a virus infecting people all over the world and is similar to other viruses commonly named the cold and flu, but it is stronger in its effect on the lungs. Lungs are important for moving oxygen from air into the blood. When people do not have enough oxygen, they die.

COVID-19 enters the body through the mouth or nose by breathing, or through direct contact such as a hand. Then the virus cells can attach to the surface of nose and mouth cells and then move down to the lungs.

In Story No.2, Tim and Biritjalawuy discuss body cells, such as those lining the nose and mouth, that have an outside layer of thin skin called a membrane. The membrane layer has small bumps on it that can be seen, like hairs. One of these hairs has a shape that the COVID-19 virus recognises and fits into. This part of the body cell membrane layer is called the ‘ACET receptor’. The COVID-19 virus fits into the ACET receptor like a hand that fits in a glove, or like a burr catching onto fur. Viruses search for places in the body that they can fit onto to reproduce more viruses. For example, Hepatitis A, B and C viruses make their home in the liver.

In Story No.3, Timothy and Biritjalawuy discuss how viruses attach to body cells in the mouth and nose, then enter the body cells to reproduce more viruses. Think of body cells like turtle eggs, where the body cells have an outer skin and another thin membrane layer that covers the inside part. This part is like the yolk in a turtle egg and is called a ‘nucleus’ in a body cell. The cell nucleus is like the brain for the cell. When the virus enters a body cell it goes into the nucleus, and uses the nucleus to instruct the cell to make more viruses. The body cell stops working as a body cell, and becomes a place for making virus instead. When the virus has reproduced into so many that they fill the body cell, the body cell bursts spreading many individual viruses to other places in the person’s body.

In Story No.4, they explain how the COVID-19 virus enters a person’s body cells in their nose or mouth, and reproduces more virus inside the body cells until they burst. In this way, the COVID-19 virus cells can travel to a person’s lungs. A COVID-19 sickness does not move from the nose and throat to the lungs if a person’s white protective blood cells are strong enough to stop the virus reproducing. A person may show signs of a sore throat, fever and headache as the body starts an inflammatory response to the invading virus. White blood cells are always searching for foreign germs invading in the body, to destroy them.


There are 4 Stories in this podcast. Please see time stamps below:

  • Story No. 1 Covid19 inside the body: Hows does it cause disease Part 1              00:00
  • Story No. 2 Covid19 inside the body: Hows does it cause disease Part 2              09:38
  • Story No. 3 Covid19 inside the body: Hows does it cause disease Part 3              20:58
  • Story No. 4 Covid19 inside the body: Hows does it cause disease Part 4              28:08


Click on the links below to listen to the other podcasts in our COVID-19 series: 

Please note: Podcasts 1 & 2 are not currently available online due to the unfortunate death of one of our presenters.