Emergence of a Novel Coronavirus, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2: Biology and Therapeutic Options

J Clin Microbiol. 2020 Apr 23;58(5):e00187-20. doi: 10.1128/JCM.00187-20. Print 2020 Apr 23.


The new decade of the 21st century (2020) started with the emergence of a novel coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2 that caused an epidemic of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Wuhan, China. It is the third highly pathogenic and transmissible coronavirus after severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) emerged in humans. The source of origin, transmission to humans, and mechanisms associated with the pathogenicity of SARS-CoV-2 are not yet clear, however, its resemblance to SARS-CoV and several other bat coronaviruses was recently confirmed through genome sequencing-related studies. The development of therapeutic strategies is necessary in order to prevent further epidemics and cure infections. In this review, we summarize current information about the emergence, origin, diversity, and epidemiology of three pathogenic coronaviruses with a specific focus on the current outbreak in Wuhan, China. Furthermore, we discuss the clinical features and potential therapeutic options that may be effective against SARS-CoV-2.

Keywords: novel coronavirus; outbreak; therapeutics; transmission.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Betacoronavirus / genetics*
  • Betacoronavirus / pathogenicity*
  • China / epidemiology
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology
  • Coronavirus Infections / pathology
  • Coronavirus Infections / therapy*
  • Coronavirus Infections / virology*
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Genetic Variation
  • Genome, Viral / genetics
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology
  • Pneumonia, Viral / pathology
  • Pneumonia, Viral / therapy*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / virology*
  • Zoonoses / epidemiology
  • Zoonoses / pathology
  • Zoonoses / therapy*
  • Zoonoses / virology*

Supplementary concepts

  • COVID-19
  • severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2