Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2

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The coronavirus

SARS coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is a positive-sense, single-stranded RNA coronavirus which causes the disease COVID-19.[1]It used to be known as 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) by the World Health Organization (WHO) (Chinese: 2019新型冠狀病毒)[2][3], and informally known as the Wuhan coronavirus (simplified Chinese: 武汉冠状病毒; traditional Chinese: 武漢冠狀病毒) or Wuhan seafood market pneumonia virus.[4]

The virus started the 2019–20 coronavirus outbreak. [5][6][7] The first suspected cases were reported to the WHO on December 31, 2019.[8][9]

Many early cases of this new coronavirus were linked to Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, a large seafood and animal market in Wuhan, China. The virus may have come from infected animals. It is not certain that this place was the source of the pandemic, once believed to be just an epidemic.[10]

Origins[change | change source]

The genetic material of this virus showed many similarities to SARS-CoV (79.5%)[11] and bat coronaviruses (96%).[11] This means the virus may have originally come from bats.[12][13][14] Scientists did more experiments that showed the virus probably went from bats to an intermediate host, meaning another animal in between bats and humans. The viruses in that other animal changed over time until they could infect humans. Scientists are close to sure that the original animal was a bat but not sure what the intermediate animal was.[15] Some scientists think it could have been a pangolin because there are coronaviruses that live in pangolins even though they are not exactly the same as SARS-CoV-2 or the ones in bats.[16] Pangolins are an endangered species and buying, selling or moving them from place to place is illegal in China and many other countries. But their scales are an ingredient in many traditional Chinese medicines, so they are often sold on the black market.[17]

COVID-19[change | change source]

In February 2020, the WHO announced they had chosen a name for the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2: COVID-19. "Covi" for "coronavirus," "D" for "disease," and "19" for the year 2019. They said they did not want the name to have any person, place, or animal in it, like "Wuhan," or “pangolin,” because then people might blame the disease on that place, person, or animal. They also wanted the name to be easy to say out loud.[1]

Conspiracy theories[change | change source]

In early 2020, some people began to think that the SARS-CoV-2 may have been made on purpose in a laboratory and released in Wuhan like a weapon. When the leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei, said that he did not want the United States to help his country against coronavirus, he named the idea that Americans had made the virus on purpose to harm Iranains as one of his reasons: "I do not know how real this accusation is but when it exists, who in their right mind would trust you to bring them medication?" said Khamenei.[18]

On March 17, 2020, scientists from Columbia University and other places published a paper in Nature Medicine showing that SARS-CoV-2 was almost surely not made by humans in a laboratory. They did this by comparing the genomes of different viruses to each other.[16] The scientists saw that SARS-CoV-2 did not match any of the viral backbones that already exist for virologists to use.[19]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Sanya Mansoor (February 11, 2020). "What's in a Name? Why WHO's Formal Name for the New Coronavirus Disease Matters". Time. Retrieved February 13, 2020.
  2. "Surveillance case definitions for human infection with novel coronavirus (nCoV)". Retrieved 21 January 2020.
  3. "Novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), Wuhan, China". 10 January 2020. Retrieved 16 January 2020.
  4. Zhang, Y.-Z.; et al. (12 January 2020). "Wuhan seafood market pneumonia virus isolate Wuhan-Hu-1, complete genome". GenBank. Bethesda MD. Retrieved 13 January 2020.
  5. "中国疾病预防控制中心". Retrieved 9 January 2020.
  6. "New-type coronavirus causes pneumonia in Wuhan: expert". Xinhua. Retrieved 9 January 2020.
  7. "CoV2020". Retrieved 12 January 2020.
  8. "Pneumonia of unknown cause – China. Disease outbreak news". World Health Organization. 5 January 2020. Archived from the original on 7 January 2020. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  9. Schnirring, Lisa (14 January 2020). "Report: Thailand's coronavirus patient didn't visit outbreak market". CIDRAP. Archived from the original on 14 January 2020. Retrieved 15 January 2020.
  10. "Update and Interim Guidance on Outbreak of 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in Wuhan, China CDC Health Update". New Jersey Department of Health. 18 January 2020
  11. 11.0 11.1 Zhou, Peng; Yang, Xing-Lou; Wang, Xian-Guang; Hu, Ben; Zhang, Lei; Zhang, Wei; Si, Hao-Rui (23 January 2020). "Discovery of a novel coronavirus associated with the recent pneumonia outbreak in humans and its potential bat origin". bioRxiv: 2020.01.22.914952. doi:10.1101/2020.01.22.914952 – via
  12. Sample CoVZC45 and CoVZXC21, see there for an interactive visualisation Archived 20 January 2020 at the Wayback Machine
  13. Benvenuto, Domenico; Giovannetti, Marta; Ciccozzi, Alessandra; Spoto, Silvia; Angeletti, Silvia; Ciccozzi, Massimo (2020). "The 2019 new Coronavirus epidemic: evidence for virus evolution". bioRxiv: 2020.01.24.915157. doi:10.1101/2020.01.24.915157.
  14. Callaway, Ewen; Cyranoski, David (23 January 2020). "Why snakes probably aren't spreading the new China virus". Nature. doi:10.1038/d41586-020-00180-8. Archived from the original on 25 January 2020. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  15. James Gorman (March 26, 2020). "Significance of Pangolin Viruses in Human Pandemic Remains Murky: Scientists haven't found evidence that the new coronavirus jumped from pangolins to people, but they do host very similar viruses". New York Times. Retrieved March 31, 2020.
  16. 16.0 16.1 *University of Sydney (March 26, 2020). "Unlocking the Genetic Code of the Novel Coronavirus: How COVID-19 Made the Leap From Animals to Humans". SciTech Daily. Retrieved March 29, 2020.
  17. *Charlie Campbell and Mong La (November 21, 2016). "Traditional Chinese Medical Authorities Are Unable to Stop the Booming Trade in Rare Animal Parts". Time.
  18. Jon Gambrell (March 22, 2020). "Iran leader refuses US help, citing virus conspiracy theory". Associated Press. Retrieved March 29, 2020.
  19. Kristian G. Anderson; Andrew Rambaut; W. Ian Lipkin; Edward C. Holmes; Robert F. Garry (March 17, 2020). "The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2". Nature Medicine. doi:10.1038/s41591-020-0820-9. Retrieved March 29, 2020. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)

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