An Emerging Coronavirus Causing Pneumonia Outbreak in Wuhan, China: Calling for Developing Therapeutic and Prophylactic Strategies (2020/01/20)

In December of 2019, an outbreak of pneumonia caused by an unknown aetiology occurred in Wuhan, China and most patients were linked to a single seafood market, which reportedly sold seafood and some live animals, including poultry, bats, marmots and other wild animals, suggesting that the pathogen may be transmitted from an animal to human. The pathogen was soon identified to be a novel coronavirus, 2019-nCoV denoted by WHO [1].

On 19 January 2020, Wuhan Health Commission reported that a total 198 cases in the 25–89-year-old range were confirmed positive for 2019-nCoV, including 25 being discharged and 3 having died. Among the 170 patients under treatment in hospitals, 126, 35, and 9 are in mild, severe, and critical condition, respectively ( In addition, two patients in Thailand, one in Japan, and one in South Korea, were detected positive for 2019-nCoV. They did not visit the specific seafood market, but might have close contact with some pneumonia patients during their trip in Wuhan, raising the concern of limited human-to-human transmission of 2019-nCoV (

Research scientists have released the full genomic sequence of 2019-nCoV, such as Wuhan-Hu-1 (GenBank, accession no. MN908947). The phylogenetic analysis revealed that the gene sequence of 2016-nCoV is 89% identical to that of bat SARS-like coronavirus ZXC21 (bat-SL-CoVZXC21, accession no. MG772934.1) and ZC45 (MG772933.1), and 82% identical to that of SARS-CoV Tor2 (JX163927), suggesting that 2019-nCoV also belongs to betacoronavirus Lineage B, but has closer homology to bat-SL-CoVZC45 and bat-SL-CoVZXC21 than SARS-CoV [2] (Figure 1). Both bat-SL-CoV ZC45 and ZXC21 were found in Chinese horseshoe bats (Rhinolopus sinicus) in Zhoushan city of Zhejiang Province, China between 2015 and 2017 [3], which can infect suckling rats and cause disease. Given that there were some bats and live animals in the seafood market, 2019-nCoV may be originated from bats or live animals exposure to the materials contaminated with bat droppings in the seafood market or surrounding area.

Author: Shibo Jiang, Lanying Du, Zhengli Shi