Coronaviruses

May 11, 2020

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Anchor lead: As we seek to understand SARS-CoV2, it’s worth looking at history, Elizabeth Tracey reports

SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is just one of the family of coronaviruses that have been around for centuries. Lisa Maragakis, director of infection control at Johns Hopkins, reviews the history.

Maragakis: They have been with us as human pathogens for a very long time and are actually responsible for at least ten if not up to thirty percent of all upper respiratory infections including what we term the common cold, and generally considered to be inconsequential. This particular version of a coronavirus is not at all inconsequential. It follows other family members including SARS and MERS as coronaviruses that cause extremely severe respiratory illness and death in many people.  :33

Maragakis says such an historical perspective may provide important clues with an eye toward slowing the pandemic, developing treatments and vaccines. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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