Phylogenetic Analysis Shows Novel Wuhan Coronavirus Clusters with SARS

China released the genetic sequence of a new coronavirus believed to be responsible for a cluster 0f unusual pneumonia cases in Wuhan. Phylogenetic analysis shows the coronavirus to be closely related to SARS CoV, the virus responsible for the SARS pandemic which began in China in 2003.

Further analysis is necessary, but this preliminary analysis shows the virus is also quite similar to other SARS-related coronaviruses which appear to be endemic to the area. Prior EcoHealth Alliance research has found evidence that these viruses are spilling into human populations. We are also conducting behavioral analysis with the goal of reducing risk for this spillover.

The virus responsible for the current outbreak in Wuhan has so far killed one person; fortunately it’s not currently believed that the virus has the ability to spread human-to-human. Our work has shown that there is a large diversity of coronaviruses that are endemic to China.

Research into the coronavirus genome was lead by Dr. Yong-Zhen Zhang at the the Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center & School of Public Health, in collaboration with the Central Hospital of Wuhan, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, the Wuhan Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institute for Communicable Disease Control and Prevention, Chinese Center for Disease Control, and the University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia. It can be accessed and downloaded here.