Insights into the Recent 2019 Novel Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) in Light of Past Human Coronavirus Outbreaks
Department of Biological Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, University of South Florida St. Petersburg, St. Petersburg, FL 33701, USA
Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Faculty of Pharmacy, Cairo University, Cairo 11562, Egypt
Department of Microbiology and Immunology, School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Industries, Badr University in Cairo (BUC), Entertainment Area, Badr City, Cairo 11829, Egypt
Microbiology and Immunology Department, Faculty of Pharmacy, Ain Shams University, African Union Organization St., Abbassia, Cairo 11566, Egypt
Department of Pathology, Faculty of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences, Sylhet Agricultural University, Sylhet 3100, Bangladesh
Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, College of Osteopathic Medicine, Sam Houston State University, Conroe, TX 77304, USA
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Pathogens 2020, 9(3), 186; https://doi.org/10.3390/pathogens9030186
Received: 5 February 2020 / Revised: 23 February 2020 / Accepted: 2 March 2020 / Published: 4 March 2020
Coronaviruses (CoVs) are RNA viruses that have become a major public health concern since the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome-CoV (SARS-CoV) outbreak in 2002. The continuous evolution of coronaviruses was further highlighted with the emergence of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-CoV (MERS-CoV) outbreak in 2012. Currently, the world is concerned about the 2019 novel CoV (SARS-CoV-2) that was initially identified in the city of Wuhan, China in December 2019. Patients presented with severe viral pneumonia and respiratory illness. The number of cases has been mounting since then. As of late February 2020, tens of thousands of cases and several thousand deaths have been reported in China alone, in addition to thousands of cases in other countries. Although the fatality rate of SARS-CoV-2 is currently lower than SARS-CoV, the virus seems to be highly contagious based on the number of infected cases to date. In this review, we discuss structure, genome organization, entry of CoVs into target cells, and provide insights into past and present outbreaks. The future of human CoV outbreaks will not only depend on how the viruses will evolve, but will also depend on how we develop efficient prevention and treatment strategies to deal with this continuous threat.