2019 novel coronavirus
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|Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2|
|Illustration of a SARS-CoV-2 virion|
|Cross-sectional illustration of a SARS-CoV-2 virion showing internal components|
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2
|Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the only recorded outbreak|
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), formerly known as the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), is a positive-sense, single-stranded RNA coronavirus. The virus is contagious among humans and is the cause of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). There is no vaccine against the virus at this time.
SARS-CoV-2 has strong genetic similarity to known bat coronaviruses, making an origin in bats likely, although an intermediate reservoir such as a pangolin is thought to be involved. From a taxonomic perspective SARS-CoV-2 is classified as a strain of the species severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus.
SARS-CoV-2 is implicated in the ongoing 2019–20 Wuhan coronavirus outbreak, a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. Because of this connection, the virus is sometimes referred to informally as the "Wuhan coronavirus".
During the ongoing 2019–20 Wuhan coronavirus outbreak, the World Health Organization (WHO) originally recommended use of the temporary designation "2019-nCoV" (2019 novel coronavirus) to refer to the virus. However, this led to concerns that the absence of an official name might lead to the use of prejudicial informal names, and in common parlance the virus was often referred to as "the new coronavirus", "the Wuhan coronavirus", or simply "the coronavirus". Per 2015 WHO guidelines on the naming of viruses and diseases, the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) announced that it would introduce a suitable official name for the virus.
On 11 February 2020, the ICTV introduced the name "severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2" (SARS-CoV-2) to refer to the virus strain previously known as 2019-nCoV. Earlier the same day, the WHO officially renamed the disease caused by the virus strain from 2019-nCoV acute respiratory disease to "coronavirus disease 2019" (COVID-19).
Human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed. Coronaviruses are primarily spread through close contact, in particular through respiratory droplets from coughs and sneezes within a range of about 6 feet (1.8 m). Viral RNA has also been found in stool samples from infected patients. It is possible that the virus can be infectious even during the incubation period, but this has not been proven, and the WHO stated on 1 February 2020 that "transmission from asymptomatic cases is likely not a major driver of transmission" at this time.
Animals sold for food were originally suspected to be the reservoir or intermediary hosts of SARS-CoV-2 because many of the first individuals found to be infected by the virus were workers at the Huanan Seafood Market. A market selling live animals for food was also blamed in the SARS outbreak in 2003; such markets are considered to be incubators for novel pathogens. The outbreak has prompted a temporary ban on the trade and consumption of wild animals in China. However, some researchers have suggested that the Huanan Seafood Market may not be the original source of viral transmission to humans.
With a sufficient number of sequenced genomes, it is possible to reconstruct a phylogenetic tree of the mutation history of a family of viruses. Research into the origin of the 2003 SARS outbreak has resulted in the discovery of many SARS-like bat coronaviruses, most originating in the Rhinolophus genus of horseshoe bats. SARS-CoV-2 falls into this category of coronaviruses closely related to SARS-CoV. Two genome sequences from Rhinolophus sinicus published in 2015 and 2017 show a resemblance of 80% to 2019-nCoV. A third virus genome from Rhinolophus affinis, "RaTG13" collected in Yunnan province, has a 96% resemblance to 2019-nCoV. For comparison, this amount of variation among viruses is similar to the amount of mutation observed over ten years in the H3N2 human influenza virus strain.
Researchers from Guangzhou claim to have found a "99% identical" viral genome in a pangolin sample. As of 12 February 2020[update], the sequence remains unavailable, and all information comes from a university announcement. Pangolins are protected under Chinese law, but poaching and trading of pangolins for traditional medicine remains common. A metagenomic study published in 2019 previously revealed that SARS-CoV was the most widely distributed coronavirus among a sample of Malayan pangolins. Microbiologists and geneticists in Texas have independently found evidence of recombination in coronaviruses suggesting pangolin origins of SARS-CoV-2; they acknowledged remaining unknown factors while urging continued examination of other mammals.
Phylogenetics and taxonomy
Genomic organisation of SARS-CoV-2
|NCBI genome ID|
|Genome size||29,903 bases|
|Year of completion||2020|
SARS-CoV-2 belongs to the broad family of viruses known as coronaviruses. It is a positive-sense single-stranded RNA (+ssRNA) virus. Other coronaviruses are capable of causing illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). It is the seventh known coronavirus to infect people, after 229E, NL63, OC43, HKU1, MERS-CoV, and the original SARS-CoV.
Like the SARS-related coronavirus strain implicated in the 2003 SARS outbreak, SARS-CoV-2 is a member of the subgenus Sarbecovirus (Beta-CoV lineage B). Its RNA sequence is approximately 30,000 bases in length.
By 12 January 2020, five genomes of 2019-nCoV had been isolated from Wuhan and reported by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CCDC) and other institutions; the number of genomes increased to 81 by 11 February 2020. A phylogenic analysis of the samples shows they are "highly related with at most seven mutations relative to a common ancestor", implying that the first human infection occurred in November or December 2019.
On 11 February 2020, ICTV announced that according to existing rules that compute hierarchical relationships among coronaviruses on the basis of five conserved sequences of nucleic acids, the differences between 2019-nCoV and severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus (SARS-CoV) are insufficient to make 2019-nCoV a separate viral species. Therefore, they identified 2019-nCoV as a strain of SARS-CoV.
Protein modeling experiments on the spike (S) protein of the virus suggest that it has sufficient affinity to the angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptors of human cells to use them as a mechanism of cell entry. On 22 January 2020, a group in China working with the full virus genome and a group in the United States using reverse genetics methods independently and experimentally demonstrated that ACE2 could act as the receptor for 2019-nCoV.
To look for potential protease inhibitors, the viral 3C-like protease M(pro) from the ORF1a polyprotein has also been modeled for drug docking experiments. Innophore has produced two computational models based on SARS protease, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences has produced an unpublished experimental structure of a recombinant 2019-nCoV protease. In addition, researchers have modeled the structures of all mature peptides in the 2019-nCov genome using I-TASSER and Swiss-model.
SARS-CoV-2 virions with visible coronae
The first known human infection by the strain occurred in early December 2019. Proliferation of SARS-CoV-2 was first detected in Wuhan, China, in mid-December 2019, likely originating from a single infected animal. The virus subsequently spread to all provinces of China and to more than two dozen other countries in Asia, Europe, North America, Africa, and Oceania. Human-to-human spread of the virus has been confirmed in all of these regions except Africa. On 30 January 2020, 2019-nCoV was designated a Public Health Emergency of International Concern by the WHO.
As of 16 February 2020[update] (08:45 UTC), there were 69,261 confirmed cases of infection, of which 68,505 were within mainland China. One mathematical model estimated the number of people infected in Wuhan alone at 75,815 as of 25 January 2020. Nearly all cases outside China have occurred in people who either traveled from Wuhan, or were in direct contact with someone who traveled from the area. While the proportion of infections that result in confirmed infection or progress to diagnosable disease remains unclear, the total number of deaths attributed to the virus was 1,669 as of 16 February 2020 (08:45 UTC); over 95% of all deaths have occurred in Hubei province, where Wuhan is located.
The basic reproduction number (, pronounced R-nought or R-zero) of the virus has been estimated to be between 1.4 and 3.9. This means that, when unchecked, the virus typically results in 1.4 to 3.9 new cases per established infection. It has been established that the virus is able to transmit along a chain of at least four people.
In China, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention is developing a vaccine against the novel coronavirus. The University of Hong Kong has announced that a vaccine is under development, but they have yet to proceed to animal testing. Shanghai East Hospital is also developing a vaccine in partnership with the biotechnology company Stemirna Therapeutics.
Elsewhere, three vaccine projects are being supported by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), including projects by the biotechnology companies Moderna and Inovio Pharmaceuticals and another by the University of Queensland. The United States National Institutes of Health (NIH) is cooperating with Moderna to create an RNA vaccine matching a spike of the coronavirus surface, and intends to start human trials by May 2020. Inovio Pharmaceuticals is developing a DNA-based vaccination and collaborating with a Chinese firm in order to speed its acceptance by regulatory authorities in China, hoping to perform human trials of the vaccine in the summer of 2020. In Australia, the University of Queensland is investigating the potential of a molecular clamp vaccine that would genetically modify viral proteins to make them mimic the coronavirus and stimulate an immune reaction.
In an independent project, the Public Health Agency of Canada has granted permission to the International Vaccine Centre (VIDO-InterVac) at the University of Saskatchewan to begin work on a vaccine. VIDO-InterVac aims to start production and animal testing in March 2020, and human testing in 2021.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to 2019-nCoV.|
|Wikispecies has information related to Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2|
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