Cross-species transmission of 2019-nCoV


  • Heather Mason
  • Univadis Medical News
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At the time of writing, there have been over 2,000 confirmed diagnoses and 56 deaths due to the novel coronavirus 2019-nCoV. Cases have now been confirmed in Hong Kong, Nepal, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Australia, USA, Canada and France.

Emerging research has identified similarities between 2019-nCoV and bat coronavirus. Chinese researchers have downloaded the newly sequenced beta-coronavirus genome from the GenBank database and compared it to 271 coronavirus genomes from different geographical locations.

They reveal that the 2019-nCoV is a recombinant virus consisting of a bat coronavirus and an origin-unknown coronavirus, highly distinctive from the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

Recombination in the nucleotides 21500-24000 within the viral spike glycoprotein gene, which recognises the cell surface receptor may boost cross-species transmission, the researchers say. No similar sequence was found in the database, suggesting that a putative recombination parent virus is still unknown

However, although not confirmed, snakes are the most likely wildlife reservoir of 2019-nCoV, based on its relative synonymous codon usage, experts say.

International airports around the world have stepped up screening programmes to prevent international spread.