Infectious Bronchitis (IB) is the name given to a highly contagious disease of baby chicks first recorded in North Dakota in the USA in 1931. In 1937, the cause was shown to be a virus, unrelated to any known viruses and named simply ‘IB virus’ or ‘IBV’. Subsequently, investigations showed that the virus affects not only baby chicks but all ages of susceptible chickens. The IBV is the prototype virus of the Coronaviridae.
Many of us will think, that the Wuhan coronavirus (2019-nCoV) epidemic is a new threat to humans. But since 1965 when Tyrell and Bynoe introduced the use of ciliated human embryonic tracheal and nasal organ cultures and revealed a new group of viruses, called corona virus. The unique properties of the new group included their distinctive club-shaped surface projections, which give the appearance of a solar corona to the virion. The name Coronavirus was born and another proof of parentage of our species.
But if we humans have always had to deal with these corona viruses, why are we so concerned now? Furthermore, the question arises of its own accord, is this corona virus from Wuhan (2019-nCoV) so dangerous for us and if, why?
Let us remember the years 2002/2003 and the headlines of SARS (Severe acute respiratory syndrome = SARS-CoV) – a new infection threatens the world. SARS was first recognised as a distinct strain of coronavirus in 2003. The source of the virus has never been clear, though the first human infections can be traced back to the Chinese province of Guangdong in 2002. The virus then became a pandemic, causing more than 8,000 infections of an influenza-like disease in 26 countries with close to 800 deaths.
In 2004 arrived HCoV-NL63, which causes pneumonia and bronchitis. Most of us have antibodies to NL63, therefore did not make us very sick.
2005 came CoV-HKU1 (a Human coronaviruses typ) which causes pneumonia in predominantly children less than 5 years and 1.5% of cases of adult respiratory distress syndrome.
In 2012 emerged a new corona virus (MERS-CoV = Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome) in the Arabian peninsula, which has killed close to 1,000 humans. More than 2,400 Rhesus macaques have been infected with MERS-CoV) to find a vaccine to halt the disease’s path , until today with no success.
Today, as of 28th February, 2020 we have already 86,032 coronavirus (COVID-19) cases and 2942 deaths. The coronavirus COVID-19 is affecting 64 countries and territories around the world and 1 international conveyance (the Diamond Princess cruise ship harbored in Yokohama, Japan). The reader therefore wonders whether it is already a pandemic or still an epidemic.
However, Wuhan coronavirus was first identified in the Chinese city of Wuhan in 2019. At the time of writing, numbers of infected are still on the rise, with a mortality rate of around 1 percent.
Snakes were originally suspected as a potential source for the outbreak, though other experts have deemed this unlikely and proposed bats instead. But why in bats and does that mean, that bats are dangerous for humans?
Of course, bats are carriers of different coronviruses, I do not want to mention a specific number because it is estimated that there are 900 to over 1,200 species of bats in the world, with at least 219 species of bats in Indonesia, which has more bat species than any other country.
And of course, comparing genome sequences of COVID-19 and the SARS-CoV is a classic way to sort out evolutionary relationships, which show that both have a common ancestor, a bat coronavirus. But this is just the top of the iceberg – COVID-19 is actually closer to the bat virus and shares 96% of its genome sequence compared to about 86% with SARS-CoV. The COVID-19 spike gene continues to cloud the water and shares a 39-base insertion with a kind of soldier fish swimming in the South China Sea. However, the scientific guesswork is certainly not over yet and somehow, the COVID-19 ended up in the Wuhan Huanan Seafood Market. The confusion is perfect, is it? And how comes, that SARS –CoV and COVID-19 has there epicenter of the pandemic just only 990 km away. Why doesn’t happen such an outbreak of a dangerous misanthrope in the heart of Indonesia where most bat species are at home?
Many questions- many are not answered either, maybe, nobody really wants to find or to give the answers. Fact is, once ensconced in a human cell, the situation is similar like a download process of a new software in a computer (computer = human cell). The basic of the tools to enter in our cells are more or less the same of corona viruses, just the conduction system (few additional structural proteins) to the host species cells are variable. Viruses have developed with us and used proteins that protrude from our cell surfaces. In case of COVID-19, it binds to angiotensin converting enzyme 2, also known as ACE2.
Did COVID-19 come from Homo sapiens – very intelligent man?
For many years, coronavirus particles have been found in stools of children and adults in many parts of the world. However, the frequency of viral detection has been similar in the sick and the healthy population .The appearance of these viral particles in stools of newborns in hospital nurseries is poorly understood, neither the cause of illness nor the way it is spread.
In case of COVID-19 could be happened in the past, that viral particles entered in human DNA or RNA for making a protein, which binds to ACE2. This protein sticks to our cells and the virus tip of COVID-19 disguises itselfs and reaches for our cells. New studies say that the East Asian populations have much higher ACE2 expression in tissues which may suggest different susceptibility or response to 2019-nCoV/SARS-CoV-2. In some other words, a ‘mood of nature’ or a form of biochemistry action in an evolution event could cause the current epidemic.
If corona viruses have always accompanied our lives, why is there so much excitement right now, and on the other side, why publish by chance the ECDC (European Centre For Disease Prevention and Control) a risk assessment guidelines for infectious diseases transmitted on aircraft (RAGID) regarding that MERS-CoV in January 2020 and no newspaper or infection specialist mentioned this important guideline in one of the many interviews during outbreak of the new epidemic/pandemic.