Science Art: Coronavirus spike protein structure, by David Veesler, University of Washington,2016

Scientific illustration of a protein spike on a virus

Scientific illustration of a protein spike on a virusClick to embiggen

This is not an alien forest. It is also not a picture of the COVID19 virus. It’s an illustration from 2016 of another coronavirus, and specifically of the spike proteins that provide the “handles” that vaccines can grab onto – and that allow the virus to enter a cell.

As the NIH Image Gallery puts it:

The illustration shows a viral membrane decorated with spike glycoproteins; highlighted in red is a potential neutralization site, which is a protein sequence that might be used as a target for vaccines to combat viruses such as MERS-CoV and other coronaviruses.

Yeah, at the time this illustration was made, the coronaviruses most people cared about were SARS and its cousin MERS.