A March 17 Newsweek article on the symptoms and spread of COVID-19 quotes ICAP’s senior technical director, Jessica Justman, MD:
The new member of the large coronavirus family of pathogens does not appear to infect the body in a particularly unique way, Jessica Justman, associate professor of epidemiology at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, told Newsweek. Like other viruses, it binds to a receptor found on many cells in the body, including those in the lower respiratory tract. The microbes, which are a protein coat filled with genetic material, then hijack the cells in order to replicate. This is why some COVID-19 patients develop pneumonia, an infection of the air sacs in one or both lungs, said Justman.