So, what did we learn in 2003 from SARS?
According to doctors Peng Zhou and Hang Fan who wrote a report in April 2018 on the fatal swine acute diarrhoea syndrome caused by an HKU2-related coronavirus of bat origin, SARS was telling and its understanding opened many doors to further learning.
Mankind perhaps should have invested in a SARS / MERS vaccine.
by Micheal John
“The emergence of SARS in southern China in 2002,” wrote Dr. Peng Zhou in April 2018, “which was caused by a previously unknown coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and has led to more than 8,000 human infections and 774 deaths (see WHO report) it highlights new frontiers in emerging infectious diseases.”
Peng Zhou and Hang Fan noted that SARS:
- “demonstrates that coronaviruses are capable of causing fatal diseases in humans”; and
- “the identification of bats as the reservoir for SARS-related coronaviruses”, and
- “SARS-CoV3 probably originated in bats.
They also concluded that this “firmly establishes that bats are an important source of highly lethal zoonotic viruses, such as Hendra, Nipah, Ebola and Marburg viruses.”
Breakthrough. Protein fragments to trigger immune response against COVID-19
Toronto, Canada’s 2001 battle with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) never produced a vaccine but what it led to was a detailed understanding of SARS. That data has been applied by a team of scientists at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST).
SARS CoV Spike Protein
20% (red spots) a set of B cell and T cell epitopes of the SARS-CoV have an identical genetic match to SARS-CoV-2, hence they may be promising candidates for vaccine development. Photo credit: Captured from video below and redrawn. Photo Art/Cropping/Enhancement: Rosa Yamamoto / Feminine-Perspective Magazine
The SARS CoV Spike Protein
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Study
Prof. Matthew McKay, Dr. Ahmed Abdul Quadeer, and Mr. Syed Faraz Ahmed, PhD student – recently identified a set of potential vaccine targets.
According to the HKUST, “Scientists have been drawing on previous data and knowledge of the SARS virus in search of a way to crack SARS-CoV-2.”
Now, this team led by HKUST scientists Prof. Matthew MCKAY and Dr. Ahmed Abdul Quadeer, have identified a set of B cell and T cell epitopes derived from SARS. They are protein fragments able to trigger the immune response against SARS-Cov.
The research team (from right) – Prof. Matthew McKay, Professor at HKUST’s Department of Electronic & Computer Engineering and Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering; Dr. Ahmed Abdul Quadeer, Research Associate at the Department of Electronic & Computer Engineering; and Mr. Syed Faraz AHMED, PhD student – recently identified a set of potential vaccine targets which could be helpful for the development of a vaccine against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. Photo Credit: HKUST. Photo Art/Cropping/Enhancement: Rosa Yamamoto / Feminine-Perspective Magazine
The set of B cell and T cell epitopes may similarly be able to trigger an immune response against the novel coronavirus COVID-19.
The findings are fundamental in guiding further studies on the development of effective vaccines against COVID-19.
“While an effective SARS vaccine was never formally released, a lot of experiments had been done to identify SARS epitopes that can induce an immune response in humans,” said Prof. McKay from the Departments of Electronic and Computer Engineering and Chemical and Biological Engineering. “Among the SARS epitopes that can trigger an immune action, we found a small fraction which exists in both SARS and COVID-19, with their genetic sequences being exactly the same. We believe these are the most likely candidates which can trigger an immune response against COVID-19.”
“Given this epitope set also exists in the COVID-19 virus, a vaccine developed from it has the potential to also be effective for a large portion of the population,” said Dr. Quadeer, post-doctoral fellow of the Department of Electronic & Computer Engineering.
Observations of Andrew Davidson are instructive.
“Coronaviruses are pathogens of humans and animals of agricultural and veterinary importance. Prior to 2003, a number of coronaviruses were known to cause severe diseases in animals, whilst human coronaviruses were typically associated with mild respiratory illnesses. This changed with the zoonotic transmission of the potentially fatal severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV; in 2003) and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV; in 2012) to humans.
“Moreover, the emergence of swine acute diarrhoea syndrome coronavirus (SADS-CoV; in 2016) and currently, a novel human coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in China, that has resulted in fatalities, highlights the risks of highly pathogenic coronaviruses to human and animal health. Coronavirus pathogenesis is understudied, but must be comprehensively understood if coronavirus infections are to be prevented and managed.” — Dr. Andrew Davidson
Controlling the spread of COVID-19 is Problematic says New Model
This would presumably indicate the dire need for a vaccine for the basic commonalities of the SARS/MERS/COVID-19 genomes. The problem is that the COVID-19 disease is asymptomatic while still infectious.
In short, patients are spreading an illness they do not know has infected them.
A recent mathematical model reported in the Lancet looks at the feasibility of controlling COVID-19 outbreaks by isolation of cases and contacts.
The effectiveness of isolation and contact-tracing methods hinges on two key epidemiological parameters:
- the number of secondary infections generated by each new infection and
- the proportion of transmission that occurs before symptom onset.
The report concludes that, “In most scenarios, highly effective contact tracing and case isolation is enough to control a new outbreak of COVID-19 within 3 months. ”
But the report’s conclusions warn, “The probability of control decreases with:
- long delays from symptom onset to isolation,
- fewer cases ascertained by contact tracing, and
- increasing transmission before symptoms. “
Again, patients are spreading an illness they do not know has infected them.
Live Updates in the COVID-19 Pandemic
The following sources are available to readers. FPM.news and The Nurses Without Borders make direct contact and interview colleagues and sources close to the information around the world to track events and statistics.
- The People’s Republic of China
- Canadian Department of Health
- US Centers for Disease Control
- Hong Kong Global Tracking (PDF)
- Philippines COVID-19 Tracker
- Iran News Agency
- Govt. of Ireland
- Australia DoH
- Australia Public Information (PDF)
- Ministry of Health, Singapore
- Ministry of Health and Welfare, South Korea
- Province of Ontario, Canada CoronaVirus Info
- Province of Ontario, News Room
- Government of New Zealand
- MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis
- US Washington State Health Department