Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) is a novel coronavirus that has caused a worldwide pandemic of the human respiratory illness COVID-19, resulting in a severe threat to public health and safety. Analysis of the genetic tree suggests that SARS-CoV-2 belongs to the same Betacoronavirus group as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). Although the route for viral transmission remains a mystery, SARS-CoV-2 may have originated in an animal reservoir, likely that of bat. The clinical features of COVID-19, such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, and fatigue, are similar to those of many acute respiratory infections. There is currently no specific treatment for COVID-19, but antiviral therapy combined with supportive care is the main strategy. Here, we summarize recent progress in understanding the epidemiological, virological, and clinical characteristics of COVID-19 and discuss potential targets with existing drugs for the treatment of this emerging zoonotic disease.
Conclusions and perspectives
SARS-CoV-2 is the third highly pathogenic HCoV discovered, which was first reported in Wuhan and has been rapidly spreading in China and beyond. As a global health concern, SARS-CoV-2 is more contagious, but less deadly, than SARS-CoV thus far. While bats have been implicated as the original hosts for SARS-CoV-2, its intermediate hosts as well as transmission routes among humans remain largely unclear. This novel coronavirus appears to use the same cell entry receptor—ACE2—as HCoV-NL63 and SARS-CoV, albeit with disparate disease severities (Fig 2). Since viruses are continually changing as a result of genetic selection, it is likely that SARS-CoV-2 will further adapt to the human host through mutations or recombination. Obtaining epidemiological information (e.g., contact history) and molecular diagnostic profiles of either animals or humans with SARS-CoV-2 can help us in understanding SARS-CoV-2 evolution and in developing preventive strategies or clinical interventions. Moreover, a large population-based cohort study of COVID-19 is needed to further determine molecular evidence of interhuman transmission and the disease’s clinical features, information that should be shared internationally. Most individuals with mild cases may recover fully without treatment, but those with severe cases definitively need ICU care. Drug repurposing may be an emerging option against COVID-19 because common molecular pathways contribute to many different pathogenic infections. Randomized controlled trials in patients on a large scale are required to evaluate the safety and efficacy of potential drugs in the treatment of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Finally, the long-term psychosocial impact of this epidemic on individual, national, and international levels remains to be evaluated after the end of this war on SARS-CoV-2.
Reference & source information: https://journals.plos.org/
Read More on: