All the Coronavirus in the World Fits Into a Coke Can — With Room to Spare

The total volume of SARS-CoV-2 in the world is only 160 milliliters, an amount that wouldn’t fill a 12-ounce Coke can.

According to The Conversation, Christian Yates, a senior lecturer in mathematical biology at the University of Bath applied his skills to determine just how much SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is present globally. He used several formulae from his book, The Maths of Life and Death, but readily admits that his end result is an “approximation based on the most reasonable assumptions.”

He turned to data from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation that estimated 3 million people are infected daily with COVID-19. Then, Yates calculated that peak viral loads occur six days after initial infection. Finally, he figured that an average number of 10 billion virus particles would constitute a reasonable peak viral load. 

By multiplying these factors, Yates said that the total number of virus particles in the world at any given time is around two hundred quadrillion, according to The Conversation. While this sounds like an enormous, mind-boggling amount, the expert points out that the “radius of SARS-CoV-2 is roughly 1,000 times thinner than a human hair.”

Yates then applied a mathematical formula for calculating the volume of a virus particle and multiplying this by the number of estimated particles in the world at any one time. This resulted in 120 milliliters. However, the expert said that if you packed the particles into a container, there would be some empty space between the particles, much like packing oranges in a bin. 

“This increases the total gathered volume of SARS-CoV-2 particles to about 160 milliliters,” he said, adding that they would not fill a Coke can.

“It’s astonishing to think that all the trouble, disruption, the hardship and loss of life that has resulted over the last year could constitute just a few mouthfuls of what would undoubtedly be the worst beverage in history,” he said, according to The Conversation. 


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