Thursday, May 7, 2020

Cornell study uncovers why the Coronavirus is so contagious

By John Anderer

Remember a few months ago when news reporters were comparing SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) to a simple cold or the flu? No one wanted to believe that the new novel coronavirus emerging out of China was as deadly or contagious as reported. How could it be? New illnesses and viruses emerge on an almost yearly basis, but the medical and economic carnage that SARS-CoV-2 has caused is unprecedented.

SARS-CoV-2 has changed all our lives, in large part, due to its highly contagious nature. But, what makes this coronavirus strain so much more transmissible than other variations like SARS-CoV-1 or MERS? Researchers from Cornell University believe they’ve found the answer to that nagging question.

After closely analyzing SARS-CoV-2’s genetic lineage, the study’s authors say that SARS-CoV-2 combines the deadliness of the first SARS virus that emerged in China in 2003 with the contagiousness of HCoV-HKU1, a super contagious human coronavirus strain that hardly causes any symptoms at all. Unsettlingly, SARS-CoV-2 is a mixture of the worst that both of these strains had to offer.

“It’s got this strange combination of both properties,” explains Gary Whittaker, professor of virology in Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine, in a university release.  Read more >>