COVID-19

2. Why is it called “novel” coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are common in non-human animals , but SARS-CoV-2 has never been previously seen in humans (hence “novel”). Coronaviruses are most common in birds and bats – indeed, bats host thousands of types of virus without succumbing to illness. It is now widely believed that SARS-CoV-2 originated in bats and was acquired by humans at a wildlife market in Wuhan, China, in late 2019. However, whether humans acquired the virus directly from bats themselves or from pangolins, which acted as an intermediary “amplification” host for the virus, remains debated. As there has been no previous human exposure to this virus, there has been little opportunity for humans to develop immunity to it, and this, combined with its ability to easily spread and cause disease, is why such draconian measures are needed to control SARS-Cov-2. Although new, given our knowledge of the genetically related SARS-CoV-1, investigations are underway as to whether previous exposure to SARS-CoV-1 can protect against this new virus, and whether knowledge gained from the previous outbreak can be applied to this one [ Ref: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.it.2020.03.007].