COVID-19: Look to the Future, Learn from the Past

Viruses. 2020 Oct 29;12(11):1226. doi: 10.3390/v12111226.


There is a current pandemic of a new type of coronavirus, the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The number of confirmed infected cases has been rapidly increasing. This paper analyzes the characteristics of SARS-CoV-2 in comparison with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (SARS-CoV), Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and influenza. COVID-19 is similar to the diseases caused by SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV virologically and etiologically, but closer to influenza in epidemiology and virulence. The comparison provides a new perspective for the future of the disease control, and offers some ideas in the prevention and control management strategy. The large number of infectious people from the origin, and the highly infectious and occult nature have been two major problems, making the virus difficult to eradicate. We thus need to contemplate the possibility of long-term co-existence with COVID-19.

Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; coronavirus; epidemiology.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Betacoronavirus / isolation & purification
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Coronavirus Infections / transmission*
  • Humans
  • Influenza, Human / epidemiology*
  • Influenza, Human / transmission*
  • Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus / isolation & purification
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / transmission*
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / transmission*