A team of scientists have determined the shape and activity of the deadly coronavirus at a lab in southern China. Scientists from the Southern University of Science and Technology and Shenzhen National Clinical Medical Research Center for Infectious Diseases joined hands to analyse the strain of the virus which has claimed more than 3,500 lives worldwide.
The scientists isolated the strain of the virus and examined it by transmission electron microscopy. It allowed them to observe how the virus behave while it is alive. The study found that the virion particles are roughly spherical or moderately pleiomorphic. The strain has nail-like shape towards outside with a long body embedded in the envelope.
The genome sequence of this virus has been submitted to the Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Flu Data (GISAID) and designated as “BetaCoV/Shenzhen/SZTH-003/2020”. The study also revealed the moment when a host cell gets attacked by the virus and eventually gets infected. The analysis of the dangerous strain could help accelerate the development of vaccines.
Meanwhile, The World Health Organisation (WHO) said that they are continuing to recommend that all countries make containment their highest priority. Speaking at a daily media briefing, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that they are encouraged by accelerated research as part of the response. WHO has received applications for 40 diagnostic tests, 20 vaccines are in development and many clinical trials of therapeutics are underway.
“Even as we test therapeutics, we need to ensure that supplies of those medicines are available should they prove effective. WHO has been monitoring the potential risk of a disruption to medicines supplies as a result of the COVID19 epidemic,” said Ghebreyesus.
According to the latest report, 31 new deaths in China due to coronavirus infections have been confirmed, taking the total death toll because of the deadly virus to over 3,000. While most of the cases are from Hubei province of China and the city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, other countries, including the United States, Iran, Italy, and Japan, have also now reported deaths related to COVID-19.