2019 Novel Coronavirus – 2020 New Challenge!

Yu Cao, TCSM Postdoctoral Researcher, Faculty of Medicine

Yu Cao, TCSM Postdoctoral Researcher, Faculty of Medicine

New coronavirus 2019 (2019-nCoV), was discovered due to Wuhan, Hubei, China, virus pneumonia cases in 2019, and was named by the World Health Organization on January 12, 2020. [1] Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are known to cause colds and more serious diseases such as the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The new coronavirus is a new coronavirus strain that has never been found in humans before. The real appearance of 2019-nCoV is show in a rendered pseudo-color photo. [2] The image looks so harsh, but it also shows the 2019-nCoV virus’s ugly face, covered with crowns on its surface, like a demon’s mouth

2019-nCoV is the seventh known coronavirus that can infect humans, and the remaining six are HCoV-229E, HCoV-OC43, HCoV-NL63, HCoV-HKU1, SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV.[3] This virus can cause severe respiratory illnesses, it has infected more than six hundred thousand people in world to date and killed at least 30000 people, and spread to more than 190 other countries and territories. At the same time, more than 1000 people has been infected in Finland. Fortunately, more and more patients are being cured.

In epidemiology, we usually use an index R0 (basic reproduction number) to evaluate the infectivity of a disease. This indicator means that how many people will be infected on average by an ill person. The larger the R0 value, the stronger the infectivity of the disease. Here, the 2019-nCoV virus has a R0 value of 3.7, which means that in some special cases (confined spaces such as cruise ships), its infectious rate may even reach 100%, and people will be infected as soon as they come into contact with patient![4] Let’s take a look at the R0 values of various infectious diseases:

Disease Fatality rate R0
Measles 1 % ~ 3% 12~18
Smallpox 95% 5~7
AIDS (without treatment) 80 % ~ 90 % 2~5
Cholera 1 % ~ 50 % 1.06~2.63
Ebola (2014) 83 % ~ 90 % 1.5~2.5
Common flu 0.50% 0.9~2.3
Spanish flu (1918) > 2.5 % 2~3
SARS (2003) 11% 0.85~3

It can be seen that except measles and smallpox, the most infectious disease is the 2019-nCoV we are facing now.

This epidemic has led to global socioeconomic disruption, the postponement or cancellation of sporting, religious, and cultural events, and widespread fears of supply shortages which have spurred panic buying. This situation poses a serious public health risk. Countries around the world are taking active measures to fight this pandemic! In Finland, university of Turku also adjusts its operations in all aspects of studying, teaching and scientific research based on government policy recommendations. This escalating outbreak has prompted a series of research activities on 2019-nCoV, which is a new thing and challenge for science in 2020. Meanwhile, some special funding for new coronavirus research is now available in Finland. We believe that relying on the cohesion of the Finnish people can overcome all difficulties just like Finland’s ice hockey and will soon defeat the virus in 2020!

TCSM Postdoctoral Researcher
Faculty of Medicine, MediCity


[1] The Editorial Board (2020-01-29). The New York Times. Retrieved 2020-01-30.[2] Richard Horto (2020) Offline: 2019-nCoV outbreak—early lessonsLancet 395, 322.[2] Chloé Geller, Mihayl Varbanov and Raphaël E. Duval (2012) Human Coronaviruses: Insights into Environmental Resistance and Its Influence on the Development of New Antiseptic Strategies. Viruses 4, 3044-3068.
[3]  Gregg N. Milligan and Alan D. T. Barrett (2015). Vaccinology : an essential guide. Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley Blackwell. p. 310.

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