In 2007, scientists studying coronaviruses warned: “The presence of a large reservoir of SARS-CoV–like viruses in horseshoe bats… is a time bomb. The possibility of the re-emergence of SARS and other novel viruses… should not be ignored.”1
Few paid attention following the disappearance of SARS after the initial outbreak in 2002. Now, 18 years later, COVID-19 has emerged as the deadliest respiratory disease pandemic since 1918, when the “Spanish” influenza pandemic killed an estimated 50 million people.2 We need to understand what happened so that we can prevent it from happening again, and be better prepared to contain similar pandemics at their outsets.
Publication charges for this article were waived due to the ongoing pandemic of COVID-19.
Cheng VCC, Lau SKP, Woo PCY, Yuen KY, 2007. Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus as an agent of emerging and reemerging infection. Clin Microbiol Rev 20: 660–694.
Taubenberger JK, Kash JC, Morens DM, 2019. The 1918 influenza pandemic: 100 years of questions answered and unanswered. Sci Transl Med 11: eeaau5485.
Kuiken T, Holmes EC, McCauley J, Rimmelzwaan GF, Williams CS, Grenfell BT, 2006. Host species barriers to influenza virus infections. Science 312: 394–397.
Parrish CR, Holmes EC, Morens DM, Park E-C, Burke DS, Calisher CH, Laughlin CA, Saif LJ, Daszak P, 2008. Cross-species virus transmission and the emergence of new epidemic diseases. Microbiol Mol Biol Rev 72: 457–470.
Sun H 2020. Prevalent Eurasian avian-like H1N1 swine influenza virus with 2009 pandemic viral genes facilitating human infection. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1921186117.
Allen T, Murray KA, Zambtana-Torrelio C, Morse SS, Rondinini C, Marco MD, Breit N, Olival NJ, Daszak P, 2017. Global hotspots and correlates of emerging zoonotic diseases. Nat Comm 8: 1124.
Huong NQ 2020. Coronavirus testing indicates transmission risk along wildlife supply chains for human consumption in Viet Nam, 2013–2014. bioRxiv, doi: 10.1101/2020.06.05.098590.
Li H 2019. Human-animal interactions and bat coronavirus spillover potential among rural residents in Southern China. Biosaf Health 1: 84–90.
Hu B 2017. Discovery of a rich gene pool of bat SARS-related coronaviruses provides new insights into the origin of SARS coronavirus. PLoS Pathog 13: e1006698.
Zhou H 2020. A novel bat coronavirus reveals natural insertions at the S1/S2 cleavage site of the Spike protein and a possible recombinant origin of HCoV-19. bioRxiv, doi: 10.1101/2020.03.02.974139.
Carroll D, Daszak P, Wolfe ND, Gao GF, Morel CM, Morzaria S, Pablos-Méndez A, Tomori O, Mazet JAK, 2018. The Global Virome Project. Science 359: 872–974.
Lu R 2020. Genomic characterisation and epidemiology of 2019 novel coronavirus: implications for virus origins and receptor binding. Lancet 395: 565–574.
Li X, Giorgi EE, Marichann MH, Foley B, Xiao C, Kong X-P, Chen Y, Krober B, Gao F, 2020. Emergence of SARS-CoV-2 through recombination and strong purifying selection. Sci Adv 6: eabb9153.
Xia H, Huang Y, Ma H, Liu B, Xie W, Song D, Yuan Z, 2019. Biosafety level 4 laboratory user training program, China. Emerg Infect Dis 25: e180220.
Letko M, Seifert SN, Olival KJ, Plowright RK, Munster VJ, 2020. Bat-borne virus diversity, spillover, and emergence. Nat Rev Microbiol 18: 461–471.