The coronavirus behind the pandemic presents some vexing dualities. It’s dangerous enough that it dispatches patients to hospitals in droves and has killed more than 1.6 million people, but mild enough that most people shrug it off. It blocks one arm of the immune system from responding as it takes hold, but lures other parts into dangerous hyperdrive. It homes in on cells high up in the airway — think the nose and throat — but also burrows deeper into the lungs, maximizing infectiousness without ceding how sick it can make people. “It’s sort of right in that sweet spot,” said Kristian Andersen, an infectious disease expert at Scripps Research Institute.

 

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