With the emergence of the Wuhan virus (virus), are these viral mutation or does the virus exist for a long time before human contact?

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Mudassir Ali 7 months 1 Answer 108 views

Answer ( 1 )

  1. Clearly this virus existed in some other animal species for a very long time before it crossed into humans. Compared to many RNA viruses such as influenza, the mutation rate in coronaviruses is much lower, apparently due to a proof-reading activity that boosts replication fidelity. Nevertheless, some mutations still occur. This virus was heretofore optimized for whatever species it infected in the wild. These optimizations would include ability to infect, ability to replicate, and ability to be passed on to other individuals of the same species. Now we are seeing human-to-human transmission of this virus. Did this ability arise as an early mutation that enabled the outbreak, or was this ability already present to some extent in the original animal virus? Researchers will aim to find the virus in the wild to answer this question. Regardless, the longer this virus continues passing from person to person, the more optimized it will become for human spread. Mankind dodged a bullet when the SARS virus was contained in 2003. Scientists and health agencies are working to contain this outbreak, too. Either they will succeed, or there will be another infectious disease permanently added to the list of those we must already worry about. Paradoxically, the less virulent it becomes, the more likely it is to escape detection and spread. Four coronaviruses are already common cold viruses throughout the world.

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