Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2

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The SARS-CoV-2 virus causes COVID-19.
Author: CDC

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 or SARS-CoV-2, commonly known as the novel coronavirus 2019, is the virus that causes the COVID-19 infectious respiratory disease.[1] SARS-CoV-2 was previously known as n-2019-nCoV.[1][2][3][4]

SARS-CoV-2 was first identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019, as a result of investigations into a group of patients with the newly discovered COVID-19 pneumonia.[1] SARS-CoV-2 can cause COVID-19 in babies, children, and adults of any age.[5] It spread globally, resulting in the 2019-2020 coronavirus pandemic.[6][7]

COVID-19[edit | edit source]

Some people who become infected with SARS-CoV-2 do not develop COVID-19 illness, but these asymptomatic carriers can transmit it to others.[1] Of those who do develop COVID-19, 1 in 6 people need medical help, and the 2019-2020 pandemic has caused a significant number of deaths.[1][8][9]

How soap and alcohol destroy coronaviruses[edit | edit source]

How Soap Works on Coronaviruses. "When you wash your hands with soap and water, you surround any microorganisms on your skin with soap molecules. The hydrophobic tails of the free-floating soap molecules attempt to evade water; in the process, they wedge themselves into the lipid envelopes of certain microbes and viruses, prying them apart." - Ferris Jabr, New York Times

Coronaviruses, including the viruses that cause COVID-19, SARS, H1N1 flu (swine flu), and seasonal flu, are all protected by an envelope of fat; soap molecules invade the envelope and disrupt its integrity. High concentrations of ethyl alcohol or isopropyl alcohol can strip away parts of the envelope, leading to the inaction of of the viral molecules.[10][11] Isopropyl alcohol works against all viruses enveloped in fat, and ethyl alcohol additionally works against some non-enveloped viruses such as rotaviruses, when used at the correct concentrations.[10]

Comparison with SARS and influenza[edit | edit source]

SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus: artistic drawing of the structure and cross-section.
Author: Dietz et al (2020), mSystems 5:e00245-20.

The SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 illness is closely related to SARS-CoV: the coronavirus that causes Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.[12] The genome of the SARS-COV-2 virus was found to have 82% similarity with the virus that causes SARS.[12]

The SARS-CoV-2 virus appears to be significantly more contagious than the SARS-CoV virus that causes SARS, and spreads significantly in the community, unlike SARS-CoV which spread more in hospitals, healthcare settings and nursing homes than in the wider community.[13][14]

The resulting COVID-19 illness has a lower risk of death than SARS, but has killed a much higher number of people.[15][16] Both COVID-19 and SARS are many times more likely to kill than seasonal flu illnesses.[17][18] COVID-19 also has a much longer incubation period than the flu, so people may infect others before they are aware they are ill.[17]

Notable studies[edit | edit source]

  • 2020, Structural basis of receptor recognition by SARS-CoV-2 - (Full text)

Learn more[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. World Health Organization (2020). "Q&A on coronaviruses (COVID-19)". Retrieved Mar 16, 2020. 
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Feb 27, 2020). "Human Coronavirus Types". Retrieved Mar 16, 2020. 
  3. Li, Guangdi; Clercq, Erik De (Mar 2020). "Therapeutic options for the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV)". Nature Reviews Drug Discovery. 19 (3): 149–150. doi:10.1038/d41573-020-00016-0. 
  4. "Naming the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and the virus that causes it". Retrieved Mar 28, 2020. 
  5. Wei, Min; Yuan, Jingping; Liu, Yu; Fu, Tao; Yu, Xue; Zhang, Zhi-Jiang (Feb 14, 2020). "Novel Coronavirus Infection in Hospitalized Infants Under 1 Year of Age in China". JAMA. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.2131. 
  6. Hui, David S.; Azhar, Esam I.; Madani, Tariq A.; Ntoumi, Francine; Kock, Richard; Dar, Osman; Ippolito, Giuseppe; Mchugh, Timothy D.; Memish, Ziad A. (Feb 1, 2020). "The continuing 2019-nCoV epidemic threat of novel coronaviruses to global health — The latest 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China". International Journal of Infectious Diseases. 91: 264–266. doi:10.1016/j.ijid.2020.01.009. ISSN 1201-9712. PMID 31953166. 
  7. "WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 - 11 March 2020". Retrieved Mar 28, 2020. 
  8. World Health Organization. "Q&A on coronaviruses (COVID-19)". Retrieved Mar 24, 2020. 
  9. CDC (Mar 20, 2020). "Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) – Symptoms". Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved Mar 24, 2020. 
  10. 10.010.1
  12. 12.012.1
  15. "SARS | Frequently Asked Questions | CDC". Feb 8, 2019. Retrieved May 10, 2020. 
  16. "COVID-19 Map". Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. Retrieved May 10, 2020. 
  17. 17.017.1 Rettner, Rachael (Apr 30, 2020). "How does the new coronavirus compare with the flu?". Live Science. Retrieved May 10, 2020. 
  18. World Health Organization (Mar 17, 2020). "Q&A: Similarities and differences – COVID-19 and influenza". World Health Organization. Retrieved May 10, 2020. 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is a U.S. government agency dedicated to epidemiology and public health. It operates under the auspices of the Department of Health and Human Services.

genome - an organism’s complete set of DNA, including all of its genes

World Health Organization (WHO) - "A specialized agency of the United Nations that is concerned with public health. It was established on 7 April 1948, and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. The WHO is a member of the United Nations Development Group. Its predecessor, the Health Organization, was an agency of the League of Nations." The International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD) is maintained by WHO. (Learn more:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is a U.S. government agency dedicated to epidemiology and public health. It operates under the auspices of the Department of Health and Human Services.

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