Peculiar Coronavirus

Author: Release date:2020-02-24 16:27:22Source:+Add to My Favorites

Globalization has brought trade and traveling at the doorstep. The literal truth is it has also swiftly provoked the vulnerability of contagious diseases. More broadly, health problems are similar in both developing countries and high-income nations. To grip nasty shocks of infectious diseases, developed countries rely on strong financial resources, enough technical expertise, innovative health systems, early disease warning system, countrywide strong surveillance systems, and health information management. Conversely, developing countries lack such health facilities to curb disease threats. An upsurge of new cases of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-2019) has added a new layer of uncertainty and a strong jolt of fears. As the outbreak of novel coronavirus making headlines, the WHO has also swung into action; calling firm support to curb the virus. Moreover, the WHO declared the COVID-2019 outbreak is an international health emergency not because of the ill response of China but due to strained, fragile and imploded chocked health systems of developing countries, where the disease may spread faster if not properly contained. 



Incurable virus has sickened thousands of people across China, and death tally surpasses the previous SARS outbreak. China's greater political commitment to curtail outbreak is praiseworthy. Bolstering steps in early response, and implemented a couple of stringent measures including, ring-fenced 51 million people in Wuhan and the adjacent peripheries under quarantine; despite aware of the social issues, mental health problem, transportation, economic concerns and importantly stop people reunion on eve of Chinese New Year, highlighting China’s unprecedented response.

Due to spillover, wild animal trade has been quashed albeit of knowing governance issues in Guangdong and Fujian province as they have a higher intake of bushmeat. A national-level emergency and countrywide biosafety measures were tightened and swung into action to grip the virus. To deal with patients' burden, successively, 1,000-beds makeshift hospital in Huoshenshan Mountain and 1500- beds second makeshift hospital in Leishenshan were completed in a short time. To curb the spiraling outbreak with more robust measurements, 1000 army medical experts have been deployed to virus epicenter, Wuhan city. At present, research scientists of prestigious institutes frantically working on vaccine development, and have successfully isolated virus seed, hoping an effective vaccine will soon come into people's lives. Chinese government has mobilized resources and injected 66.74 billion RMB (US$9.58 billion) into basic research to screen anti-viral drugs and develop a vaccine against deadly pathogens. To cape at all, the government has triggered all-out efforts to avert further spread of infection. 


It is too early and still, too little information available about the novel coronavirus. Indeed, virus nature is novel. Knowledge about the peculiar behavior of virus is evolving quickly. However, lurking key unresolved scientific questions are there, and to be addressed properly. Early in January, the WHO announced a cluster of cases of pneumonia of unknown etiology in which prodromal symptoms were fever, malaise, dry cough, sore throat, dyspnea, and diarrhea, detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China. To identify the etiological agent of the outbreak public health official rushed to trace the sources of the outbreak. An environmental assessment was conducted at the wholesale seafood market where the initial spillover was taken place. Third Generation Sequencing (TGS) was used under epidemiological investigation. A novel coronavirus closely similar to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome-related coronavirus (SARS-CoV) found to be the cause of the deadly outbreak. This whole process of pathogen uncovering took less than three days, which is much faster than the previous SARS outbreak of 2003, which took one month in pathogen identification. Moreover, it was found that cross-species transmission is possible because of virus surface glycoprotein has close homology recombination with the genome of snake and bat. Very recently Pangolin was identified as a potential secondary reservoir. However, the source of reservoir identification yet confirmed. Initially, it was felt that a spillover took place and infection was disseminated into the local and virus virulency is weaker and limited. However, later human-to-human transmission raised concern.

Past outbreaks of infectious diseases has added much experience to Chinese experts. Despite 80 percent close homology with previous pathogens of SARS and MERS, this virus has a peculiar behavior. Still, there is limited understanding of virus epidemiology. Back in 2003, contagious illnesses that infected patients with a normal body temperature did not transmit the disease, however, this rule doesn’t work in the case of the novel coronavirus. COVID-2019 transmits during its incubation period. Till now it hasn’t been clear how the virus maintains both of its incubation period and transmission phenomena. In a previous outbreak of the SARS, there was a severe symptom of the infection, but the transmission route was clearer. Thus, it was easier to avert the virus transmissions. Compared to the SARS infection, COVID-2019 leads to less severe conditions. As of today fatality rate is observed 2.2%, but its transmission mode is more complicated.  Another misbehavior of novel coronavirus is its striking mutation, found within one family cluster. This phenomenon needs more attention and there is a need to collect sufficient clinical data for further follow-up. Based on this situation, the transmission of infection will be much faster in developing countries including Pakistan, where population density 287 people per square kilometer. The joint family system will worsen the situation. Moreover, there is a need to understand the higher rate of nosocomial transmission as reported in different hospitals. Alongside, a bunch of questions like how innate immune sense this virus by both innate and adaptive immunity enigmatic; mother to their offspring vertical transmission; fecal-oral transmission; vaccine immune pathology, and antiviral drug development to be explored in detail. It may take more time to answer these questions, and need successive efforts. It is more important to quell a pack of lies. We shouldn't opt out for troll and conspiracy theories; avoid spreading misinformation, which may hinder and undermine virus response and articulate efforts against deadly infection. The borderless concept of the disease has spread the view that in the meantime, the overarching principle is to ramp up disease control and prevention measures and strengthens scientific research approaches to the incurable virus. 

The author is a CAS-TWAS & FDDI research fellow. He was a visiting research scientist at the Chinese Center for Diseases and Control (CDC), Beijing China. He can be reached at


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