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28 - 03 - 2020

A new deadly epidemic

A new deadly epidemic caused by a coronavirus has bloomed in China. The previous epidemics caused by a coronavirus were SARS in 2002 (8000 cases and 774 deaths) and MERS in 2012 (1589 cases and 567 deaths). The new virus has caused up to now (publication time) 80 deaths for 2744 cases.

These coronaviruses are hosted by animals and can spontaneously transfer to humans when the conditions are right.

The reservoirs for SARS and MERS viruses are bats, and transmission to humans takes place through an intermediate host: the civet for SARS, the dromedary for MERS. For the new virus, research is underway. The bat is probably the host animal. It is not yet known whether an intermediate host plays a role.

French research are already mobilized to prevent the spread and care for contaminated patients. The REACTing network of French research working on infectious diseases has been activated.

The director of the Institute of Immunology, Inflammation, Infectious Disease and Microbiology of the Inserm gives an update in a video.



The research aims to find out more about this virus and develop a treatment and a vaccine. According to the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), a vaccine could be ready to be tested in humans within three months. Twenty months were needed for SARS.