2019 Novel Coronavirus SARS-COV-2: The Emergence of COVID-19

At the end of 2019, Chinese authorities officially notified the World Health Organization about mysterious pneumonia infections. A week later, scientists identified a novel coronavirus with the full genome of SARS-COV-2 as the cause of the infections.

Before the disease COVID-19 emerged, six coronaviruses were known to infect humans, according to the CDC (Center for Disease Control).  [CDC.gov] Four of them frequently infect humans and cause cold- and flu-like symptoms. The other two cause SARS and MERS, more severe respiratory diseases with higher death rates. COVID-19 causes fever, cough, muscle pain and fatigue. It commonly leads to pneumonia and can travel between humans.

This is a 3D medical animation of Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, derived from a CDC released image. It explains the ultrastructural morphology. This virus has four surface proteins E,S,M & HE labelled in the image. The S protein gives the crown-like appearance, for which the virus is named. The cross-section shows the inner components of the virus. From https://www.scientificanimations.com / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

Many more coronaviruses are known to infect animals, and a small number of these have mutated and jumped to humans. In Wuhan, China, a link to a large seafood and live animal market suggested animal to person spread. Later it was reported person-to-person spread as well in China, and outside China in the United States and other countries. [CDC.gov]

CDC image of confirmed COVID-19 Case Locations as of 02/19/2020

It is unclear how big the impact of COVID-19 might be since there is no approved treatment or vaccine against this virus. Fears of spreading the virus person-to-person have kept biotech companies on alert as well. Major pharmaceutical companies are scrambling to send potential drugs to China. [Investors.com]

Vaccine concept has been already established and proven in flu, studies show 40-60% reduction in risk of flu illness.  Some Biotech companies are testing a vaccine that uses a patient's own messenger RNA, or some other in search of DNA-based vaccine. [voanews.com]

Another group of biotech companies are trying to identify and test potential monoclonal antibodies for treating coronavirus since these antibodies bind to the antigen. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]

HIV medication has been donated for use in research activities geared towards finding treatments for COVID-19 as well. A therapy based on a protease inhibitor combining with two antiviral agents is under investigation.  Industries are taking different steps to combat this epidemic as fast as possible. [nata.org] Within a short period of time development of novel treatment across biotech, pharmaceutical, and research organizations had led to lots of activities and progress that could potentially help authorities find a treatment that works.