Using global rates of new infections with the pandemic disease, coupled with estimations of viral load, Bath University maths expert Kit Yates worked out there are around two quintillion – or two billion billion – SARS-CoV-2 virus particles in the world at any one time.

Detailing the steps in his calculations, Yates said he used the diameter of SARS-CoV-2 – at an average of about 100 nanometers, or 100 billionths of a meter – and then figured out the volume of the spherical virus.

Even accounting for the coronavirus’ projecting spike proteins and the fact that the spherical particles will leave gaps when stacked together, the total is still less than in a single 330 millilitre (ml) cola can, he said.