NEW YORK--()--Members of the Global Virus Network (GVN) are monitoring the new Coronavirus cases that have caused severe disease in one patient and death in another. The patients contracted the SARS-like virus in the Middle East, specifically Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and more specifically both visited the heavily populated Jeddah port. This is particularly troubling given the upcoming Hajj, which will bring millions of people to Saudi Arabia in the coming weeks.
“Virus was cultured from the sputum of a dying man in June and was completely sequenced by September, allowing researchers to make diagnostic tests”
The GVN is a world preeminent group of global authorities in medical virology and a resource for the identification and investigation, interpretation and explanation, control and suppression, of viral diseases posing threats to mankind. GVN’s Dr. Ab Osterhaus, at the Erasmus Medical Center Viroscience Department in Rotterdam said, “My co-workers Ron Fouchier and others have been able to define the virus’ genetic sequence in its entirety, which allows us to develop a quick and reliable diagnostic test for this new infection.” He added: “Moving forward it will be important to develop a blood-serum test – to verify antibodies to the virus and better understand the epidemiology of the virus, and to differentiate between those who have been exposed to virus and cleared it, versus those who have not. This is crucial to understand whether the two cases were caused by two separate spill-overs from an animal reservoir, or whether the virus has been spreading at a low level among humans.”
Dr. William Hall, co-founder of the GVN and director of the Irish GVN center in Dublin, remarked on the speed at which the virus was molecularly characterised and used to develop detection assays. “Virus was cultured from the sputum of a dying man in June and was completely sequenced by September, allowing researchers to make diagnostic tests,” said Dr. Hall. “Collaboration between laboratories in Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom, Holland, Germany and others contributed to such swift progress.”
The public can be assured that this new strain of virus is not as virulent as SARS. But we must continue our vigilance as this outbreak demonstrates that the SARS Coronavirus, which spread from bats to humans in 2002 and spread around the world killing more than 800 people, was not a lone event. There continues to be a dire need for continued public health awareness and research into these types of viruses.
About the Global Virus Network (GVN)
The Global Virus Network (GVN) is a non-profit, 501 C 3 organization, comprised of leading medical virologists from Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. The GVN’s mission is to combat emerging pandemic viral threats through international collaborative research, training the next generation of medical virologists, and advocacy. For more information, please contact Nora Grannell at firstname.lastname@example.org.