The new coronavirus spreading in China may not be as dangerous as everyone thinks. A study published in the journal Nature claims that the virus is very similar to its predecessor, SARS, which, like the new strain of the virus, came from bats. At the same time, despite the high level of contagiousness (more than 17,000 people were infected with the coronavirus during the month), the coronavirus from the Chinese city of Wuhan does less harm to human health than SARS, whose explosion occurred at the beginning of the 21st century. Due to almost 80% of the genetic similarities between viruses, scientists hope to develop a universal vaccine based on data from the closely related type of coronaviruses. In this case, perhaps it is too early for mankind to panic?
Can a coronavirus infection be cured?
The outbreak of general hysteria about the coronavirus from Wuhan was one of the most significant events of the beginning of 2020. At the same time, as sciencealert.com reports, the new virus is a modified version of SARS, which, although it spreads faster on the planet, is much easier to carry than its predecessor. Yang Jones, a virologist at the University of Reading in the UK, argues that the similarities between the viruses give scientists hope for an early universal vaccine, and the tried-and-true treatment methods developed at one time for SARS should work to fight the virus from the Chinese city of Wuhan .
The scientist came to this encouraging conclusion after analyzing the genetic properties of both viruses. So, coronaviruses are mostly zoonotic diseases, that is, they can be transmitted to humans from animals. Cases with SARS and the new 2019-nCoV also have one common source – the bats that were the original hosts of the virus. It is known that during the period from November 2002 to July 2003, an outbreak of SARS claimed the lives of 774 people and infected 8098 people from 29 countries. The high infectivity of coronavirus infection is associated with the round shape of the virus itself. The unique shell of this microorganism is studded with spike-shaped proteins that help it attach securely to the host cell.
Despite the experiments conducted with respect to 2019-nCoV, the use of antibodies to SARS at present remains only a hypothesis requiring a more detailed study. Be that as it may, the study authors proposed two other possible treatments for the new coronavirus. One of the potential treatment methods may be the use of antibody proteins of those patients who have already been able to independently recover from the infection. Another way to recover may be to use antibodies produced by the horses immune system that are highly resistant to coronaviruses.
Despite the fact that the source of the virus has long been found, experts are still puzzling over who became the intermediate host of the virus on the way to getting into the human body. Michael Skinner, a virologist at Imperial College London, believes the genetic information of the new coronavirus indicates pigs and civet, ermine-like mammals that served as an intermediate species for SARS. In addition, direct transmission of the virus from bats to humans is also possible. Be that as it may, the truth about exactly where the new type of coronavirus came from can only be obtained by analyzing DNA samples from animals sold in the Wuhan market, as indicated by the main sources of information in this region.