The researchers have pledged to publish the coronavirus’s genome for other scientists to analyse. The breakthrough comes after the novel virus (SARS-CoV-2) has infected nearly 230,000 people in total across the globe.
Grzegorz Juszczyk of the National Institute of Public Health in Poland told the Polish Press Agency (PAP) the move will help better understand the pandemic.
But having public access to the genetic code of the virus will also help develop much-needed vaccines and treatments.
Because this strain of the pathogen has never been seen in humans before, there is no known cure for coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
The lack of targeted drugs has so far resulted in more than 9,300 deaths globally.
Dr Juszczyk said: “Such studies are very important for tracking the development of the epidemic and they also have a great scientific value.”
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Scientists have already determined there are slight differences in the genetic makeup of coronavirus strains spreading in different countries.
The coronavirus that attacked Italy, for instance, is slightly different from the one that appeared in China last November.
Dr Juszczyk said: “Isolating the virus will also allow us to better understand its biology.”
The virus that appeared in Poland, where more than 300 people have tested positive so far, appears to have come from Germany.
However, the virus shows certain unique characteristics, which suggests the coronavirus is continuously evolving.
What is the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2?
The novel coronavirus is one of seven known coronaviruses that attack humans.
Isolating the virus will also allow us to better understand its biology
Grzegorz Juszczyk, National Institute of Public Health in Poland
Officially known as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2), the pathogen is responsible for COVID-19.
Coronaviruses are a family of zoonotic pathogens that affect animals and humans alike.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said: “The novel coronavirus detected in China is genetically closely related to the SARS-CoV-1 virus.
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“SARS emerged at the end of 2002 in China, and it caused more than 8 000 cases in 33 countries over a period of eight months.
“Around one in ten of the people who developed SARS died.”
The virus infects the respiratory system with flu-like symptoms.
The first signs of infection include dry cough, fever and fatigue.
Most people who contract COVID-19 will experience mild symptoms.
There is, however, a higher chance of developing severe symptoms among elderly age groups and people with underlying health problems.
The ECDC said: “More serious cases develop severe pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome, sepsis and septic shock that can lead to death.”
Because there is no known cure or vaccine, hospitals fight COVID-19 by treating the clinical symptoms.
Treatments such as oxygen therapy and fluid management can be “highly effective for patients with symptoms”.
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