Decoding the Wuhan coronavirus

Decoding the Wuhan coronavirus

The outbreak of a novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China was first reported on 31 December 2019.  Just one month later, the World Health Organization has declared the virus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern [1].

The Wuhan coronavirus, known also as 2019-nCoV, is a novel RNA virus that is highly contagious.  It is a member of the same family of beta-coronaviruses that includes SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) [2, 3].  

The scientists who first described 2019-nCoV have released its genetic code [4].  On 29 January 2020, researchers in Melbourne, Australia were reported to have isolated 2019-nCoV from the first person diagnosed with the infection in Australia, and they are now distributing the RNA virus to laboratories worldwide, in an effort to fast-track the development of a vaccine to halt its further spread [5].

The intermediate host of 2019-nCoV is unknown, but is thought to be either a bird or a mammal.  This is based on the premise that 2019-nCoV is most closely related to SARS and related RNA viruses that circulate in bats, although bats can infect other animals that can potentially transmit the virus to humans [3]. Wei et al. [4] contend that the vector may be a snake, but they have not provided unequivocal evidence of this.

To expedite the development of an effective vaccine will demand collaboration and coordination among scientists with access to state-of-the-art high-throughput platform technologies.  Such technologies are based on the same fundamental principles of molecular biology that are in common use in laboratories worldwide, using readily-available reagents and enzymes.   

As long as we do not have a cure for it, we need to rely on maintaing distance from each other, wearing masks and hand washing as often as possible! Why? Know here!

Are you searching for reliable and cost-effective enzymes and reagents for RNA analysis? Consider Genaxxon’s wide range of RT-PCR products >, including HotScriptase RT polymerase >, and our qPCR master mixes >.  Our staff will be only too happy to assist you.


1. WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION. “Statement on the second meeting of the International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee regarding the outbreak of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV)”.  30 January 2020.

2. NATIONAL LIBRARY OF MEDICINE “Wuhan seafood market pneumonia virus”.

3. NATURE BRIEFING 24 Jan 2020

4. WEI, J, WANG, W, ZHAO, X, et al. “Homologous recombination within the spike glycoprotein of the newly identified coronavirus may boost cross-species transmission from snake to human”. J Med Virol  22 January 2020.

5. THE UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE. “Melbourne scientists first to grow and share novel coronavirus”.

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