Is There a New SARS Coming?
There is much that we already know about the SARS-like coronavirus that has killed six people. First of all, although the virus itself shares the same general designation (coronavirus) as SARS, it is decidedly not SARS: Early indications suggest that this virus is far more treatable.
Second, the outbreak has been exceptionally well contained. The first known case, known as the index case, was a man who took a flight between Saudi Arabia and the UK. Thus far, all subsequent infections have occurred along this axis. There is no apparent spread elsewhere in the Middle East or Europe (and none in the U.S.).
But perhaps the best news is that our natural antibodies do a pretty good job of keeping so-called “novel coronavirus” largely at bay:
Thiel and his co-researchers found that the new coronavirus may be good at infecting humans, but they also found that humans might be good at fighting back with a little medical help. Their experiments show that the spread of HCoV-EMC in human cells can be slowed by treatment with lambda-type interferons, proteins that boost the body’s natural immune response to viral infections.
It’s easy to get caught up in the headlines and worry that a new flesh-eating disease is upon us, but if anything, this news should be comforting: Our early detection systems are working well, and it seems possible that this virus will run its course without ever rising to the level of world consciousness.