Beginning of the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak: Omicran Variant
The SARS-CoV-2 virus is an orthomyxovirus of the paramyxovirus family. The new infection emerged in China and was called the “Omicran Variant”. As of May 5, 2019, there have been 786 cases of SARS reported with 254 deaths.
Scientists believe that this variant evolved from a strain that was circulating in China since 2003 and thus,
it may be more virulent than previously seen variants.
This has caused a major public health concern as people are not familiar with the virus
do not have immune systems to fight against it effectively.
On the other hand, many people are on edge regarding the spread of the virus, fearing it could reach pandemic status.
During the first half of 2016,
there was an outbreak of SARS among residents in Guangdong province. From February to May, over 18,000 cases of SARS were reported among predominantly elderly patients in Guangdong province.
In an effort to further study and control this illness, scientists created a genome sequence (called a DNA sequence) for this variant.
This was accomplished by extracting RNA from a patient tissue sample and creating copies of it
through a process known as reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR).
The resulting copies are called cDNA (complementary DNA). The researchers then ran it through a DNA sequencer and made an overall sequence of the genome.
Scientists then compared this to other strains of SARS-CoV, including the original 2002 strain which was called “Clinical China”.
In addition to finding similarities between this variant and earlier strains,
they found that there are some marked differences as well.
Genes in the genome have been added or deleted, particularly a group of seven genes
at the beginning of the genome which determines how quickly it can replicate in infected cells.
The possibility exists that these changes may have made this virus more virulent or deadly than previous variants.
Researchers believe that this variant evolved from a strain that was circulating in China since 2003.
This means its spread has been much slower than previously seen variants. The researchers also suggest this may be due to the relatively lower viral load.
The viral load is a crucial indicator of how well the virus spreads and how deadly it is,
so this may indicate that the new infection is only mildly contagious or does not spread as easily as SARS-CoV-2 variant strains.
RNA in determining SARS-CoV-2
The differences between this strand of SARS-CoV and earlier SARS-CoV variants are expected to help in developing vaccines and treatments for those affected by it.
It may be that the new variant may lead to more effective vaccines in the future,
as current vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 are only 50% effective.
The next step is still to test the efficacy of this RNA in determining SARS-CoV-2 virulence,
which would help determine what other changes were made in the virus that enabled it to become more deadly.
However, there is also a possibility that this strain of SARS has been around for much longer than previously known and was not observed until recently because of its relatively slow spread.
The researchers are exploring this possibility by analyzing a 2010 outbreak of SARS among high school students in Taiwan and comparing them with cases from 2004 and 2005.
As of May 5, 2019, there have been 786 cases of SARS reported with 254 deaths.
The CDC’s “SARS-CoV-genome sequence: a guide for virus discovery, diagnosis and therapy” is available online.
On May 12, 2014 the WHO declared Australia to be free from SARS after more than a decade of the illness.
Canada had an outbreak in 2003 (the first diagnosed case being in July 2003), and Quebec had one in 2011 (first diagnosed on September 24). In addition to the spread globally via travel and trade,
the disease also spread into Canada by air travel as infected travelers returned with it. Former US president George W. Bush contracted a respiratory infection while visiting Canada while he was serving in office.
Health officials said Bush developed the illness during the trip, which left him coughing and short of breath and temporarily unable to return to Washington.
The disease was discovered in Los Angeles County on December 11, 2004
In a health care worker who had recently returned from China with a sore throat. The case was diagnosed as early as January 2005 but its origin remained unknown for several years due to the lack of SARS-specific diagnostic testing.
The source was not found until 2008, when researchers identified the coronavirus as one that had been circulating in China since 2002. Fabulous Story
The case was linked to a doctor identified only as “Patient Zero”, who consulted some of the most popular television doctors in Los Angeles after falling ill but not seeing a doctor.
Patient Zero went to two different dermatologists and a urologist, but no SARS-specific testing was done, and he did not return for follow-up care. He later died of pneumonia at the age of 43.