Coronavirus 2019-nCoV is a close relative of SARS, whose epidemic swept the world in 2003. Chinese virologists came to this conclusion, fully deciphering the pathogen genome of the new infection.
It turned out that DNA of coronavirus from Wuhan is 80% identical to the genetic code of the pathogen of severe acute respiratory syndrome SARS, an outbreak of which 17 years ago took more than 700 lives.
Then, from SARS died almost every tenth infected, but the new virus, according to scientists, is much less dangerous.
The number of people infected with coronavirus can be reduced by a factor of ten.
Quarantine Story: How the plague taught us to confront the coronavirus.
"In fact [2019-nCoV] is a version of SARS that is easier to spread but does less harm," explains University of Reading virologist Ian Jones.
In addition, a study by Chinese virologists has confirmed that the new coronavirus enters the human body through the same cellular receptor ACE2.
"This means that the treatment methods and vaccines developed for SARS must also be effective in the case of Wuhan virus," concludes Professor Jones.
There's no pandemic.
On Tuesday, WHO held another briefing on the epidemic but refused to recognize the beginning of a global pandemic of new coronavirus as the vast majority of those infected remain in mainland China.
All other countries account for a total of less than 150 cases of infection.
In the wild, SARS viruses are found in bats. Analysis of the new coronavirus, which has already killed over 420 people in China, showed that its genome is almost identical to the DNA of the "wild subspecies". (96% hits).
Another study published in Nature magazine on Monday gave a similar result. After analyzing almost 30 thousand links in the DNA chain of sample 2019-nCoV, taken from another seriously ill patient, biologists also found that it is 90% consistent with the coronavirus of wild bats.
"This outbreak clearly demonstrates the ability of animal viruses to transmit to humans and cause severe disease," the scientists stressed.
The first cases of new infection were reported in Wuhan on December 12. In late January, WHO recognized the outbreak as a global emergency.
By February 4, more than 20 thousand cases of infection in 24 countries, including Russia
and the UK, had already been officially confirmed worldwide.
However, according to estimates of Hong Kong physicians, the real scale of the epidemic may be much larger.
The number of deaths, according to the latest data, is 427 people, with a recovery rate of 725.