Coronavirus cure: Scientists make ‘impressive’ breakthroughs in decoding the coronavirus

The novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) first reported in China’s Wuhan City last year, has reached epidemic levels in the last two weeks. Nearly 8,000 people were infected with the pathogen on Thursday and the coronavirus is spreading beyond China’s borders.

Coronavirus infections have been confirmed in at least 16 countries worldwide, including France and the US, and the race is on to find a cure.

Dr Krzysztof Pyrć from the Jagiellonian University in Poland said he is impressed with how fast scientists have reacted to the virus.

He told the Polish Press Agency (PAP): “The pace of research in the face of danger is impressive.

“Only a few weeks have passed since the first infections and we already know how the virus is built and what its genome looks like.

“We have also got a preliminary characterization of the disease entity.”

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The novel coronavirus sweeping through China belongs to a family of viruses responsible for past deadly outbreaks.

Between 2002 and 2003, a coronavirus strain was responsible for killing at last 774 people with severe acute respiratory syndrome or SARS-CoV.

At the time, it took researchers months to properly identify and attack the virus.

This time around, Dr Pyrć argued scientists have been much quicker to analyse and breakdown the threat.

He said laboratories worldwide are already working on synthesising a cure, adding: “We are also working on it a the Małopolskie Biotechnology Centre.”

In a best-case scenario, the virus could be stopped dead in its tracks by preexisting medication and vaccines.

Dr Pyrć said scientists are looking into the possibility of using anti-HIV drugs to combat the novel coronavirus.

The pace of research in the face of danger is impressive

Dr Krzysztof Pyrć, Jagiellonian University

The drugs lopinavir and ritonavir were previously used to treat patients with Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS-CoV) – another coronavirus related illness.

However, the viral expert noted positive clinal trials might not necessarily translate into an effective cure in the field.

And before a working coronavirus cure can be synthesised, he said the Chinese authorities’ best move is to keep entire cities under quarantine.

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Wuhan City and its 11 million residents have been under lockdown with all routes in and out of the city under watch.

Dr Pyrć said: “I agree with the concept, as it is currently our best solution to stopping or slowing down the epidemic.”

The coronavirus is a zoonotic pathogen that is carried by animals but can spread to humans.

Infected people can transmit the virus to others through contact with bodily fluids, such as when coughing or sneezing.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates a two to 10 day incubation period between infection and the first symptoms.

As a result, many people might be carrying the novel coronavirus without ever realising.

Another concern is the early symptoms can be easily mistaken for the flu or a simple cold.

Initial coronavirus symptoms include fever, dry cough and breathing difficulties.

As the infection progresses, patients can develop pneumonia and kidney failure.

Left untreated, coronavirus infections can be lethal.

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