Rejecting the Crown: The Coronavirus Pandemic

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The label “Made in China” is perhaps preferred in association with the nation’s consumer goods. Its notorious export at present, however, is SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that struck in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019.

A novel coronavirus (CoV) refers to a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans. The new coronavirus, now named SARS-CoV-2, had not previously been detected before the outbreak was reported in Wuhan, China in December 2019.

Originating in a Wuhan wildlife market, the associated disease, called COVID-19, has become more widespread than the 2002– 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak, which also originated in China. While SARS-CoV-2 is from the same family of viruses as the SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV), it is not the same virus.

The theory that the novel coronavirus began at the wet market is supported by a new research article in the Journal of Medical Virology. Researchers studied the genetic makeup of SARS-CoV-2 and found that it’s most closely related to two SARS-like coronavirus samples, suggesting that it, too, may have had a bat origin. But when researchers looked deeper, they discovered that the protein codes of SARS-CoV-2 were most like those found in snakes.

The possible reasoning, according to the research, is that snakes often hunt bats in the wild, and because snakes were also sold at the seafood market in Wuhan, the novel coronavirus may have jumped from bats to snakes to humans at the beginning of the outbreak.

Here is how COVID-19 compares to other major viruses around the globe:

2019: COVID-19

  • Origin: China
  • Total Cases: 721,956
  • Deaths: 33,966
  • Fatality Rate: 3–4%
  • Countries Affected: 199

(Numbers are accurate as of March 30, 2020)

2012: MERS

  • Origin: Saudi Arabia
  • Total Cases: 2,494
  • Deaths: 858
  • Fatality Rate: 34.4%
  • Countries Affected: 27

2009: H1N1

  • Origin: USA
  • Total Cases: 60.8 million
  • Deaths: 151,700–575,400
  • Fatality Rate: 0.02–0.09%
  • Countries Affected: 58

2002: SARS

  • Origin: China
  • Total Cases: 8,096
  • Deaths: 774
  • Fatality Rate: 9.56%
  • Countries Affected: 32

1976: Ebola

  • Origin: Congo
  • Total Cases: 33,577
  • Deaths: 13,562
  • Fatality Rate: 40.4%
  • Countries Affected: 18

Read more about coronaviruses, COVID-19, and its origin and impact in our latest edition, ASIAN Geographic Issue 2/2020, The Wood Edition. You can buy a copy here or download a digital copy here!

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