2019-nCOV (Coronavirus): What to know, and what to expect?
Unless you have been in a media blackout these past two weeks, you are well aware of the latest public health threat: 2019-nCoV. This new strain of coronavirus is currently linked to over forty thousand infections and rising fatalities in China, and additional cases have been brought to other areas of the world. by air travelers. Here’s our perspective:
Is it worse than SARS? That’s hard to say. Younger people may be more resilient, but a reported 25-30% of cases require intensive care. In truth, we don’t know because we don’t have the denominators (number of infected, number recovering), we only have the available daily updates on the situation which are available here.
Isn’t it just like the common cold? Afterall, the common cold is caused by coronaviruses. That would be nice, but, no. Our analysis of the conservation of T cell epitopes found in currently circulating strains of coronaviruses with the novel 2019 n-COV shows poor conservation of T cell epitopes (at left), this is also true for other coronaviruses like SARS, MERS, etc, at right. That’s why this virus is going to be far worse than the common cold or the flu. (For medical updates see here).
Can you make a vaccine for it? Yes we can. And, because it is an RNA virus, has the opportunity to ‘go stealth‘ due to the mutability of its genome, making it a bit more difficult. But we are working swiftly, under the direction of EpiVax Vaccine Director, Dr. Lenny Moise, to develop a computational plan of attack. Important to note – it has human-like sequences that may abrogate immune response. Like HIV. Like HCV. See below a JanusMatrix analysis of the 2019-nCOV spike protein and read see our blog post here.
Please see the following links to literature on what is known so far:
The first mention of spread within China:
The continuing 2019-nCoV epidemic threat of novel coronaviruses to global health — The latest 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China
Clinical Characteristics: Case Study in 138 Patients
Clinical Characteristics of 138 Hospitalized Patients With 2019 Novel Coronavirus–Infected Pneumonia in Wuhan, China
Live look at epidemiology by Johns Hopkins CSSE