Coronavirus: All the COVID-19 viruses in the world put together might weigh about the same as a potato - study

All the COVID-19 viruses in the world put together might weigh about the same as a small potato, scientists say.

Or, depending on just how many people are infected and how many virus particles they harbour, it could weigh as much as a whole sack of them.

Either way, you'd likely be able to pick up every single copy of the virus behind the pandemic at once without much trouble, if they were all in the same place (and you had some pretty strong PPE). 

Scientists in the US and Israel looked at how many people are infected, how many copies of the virus they might carry and how large the viruses are to come up with a range of 100g to 10kg.

"Although each infected person carries an estimated 1 billion to 100 billion virions during peak infection, their total mass is no more than 0.1 mg," the study, published in journal PNAS, says.

"This curiously implies that all SARS-CoV-2 virions currently in all human hosts have a mass of between 100 g and 10kg."

Knowing how much SARS-CoV-2 there is in the world "promotes better understanding of disease dynamics and response of the immune system", they said. 

The result was remarkably close to a back-of-the-envelope calculation done by Christian Yates, a senior lecturer in mathematical biology at the University of Bath, for a BBC radio show in February.

He calculated the total amount of the virus in the world could probably fit inside a can of Coke. 

"It's astonishing to think that all the trouble, the disruption, the hardship and the 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 wrote.

Whether it's a can or a potato, it should go without saying you shouldn't consume it.