Focus: GS-III Science and Technology
Why in news?
- A Shanghai-based lab — Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center & School of Public Health — at Fudan University which was the first to sequence the whole genome of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and publicly share the data on January 11 was shut down on January 12 for “rectification”.
- In the first week of January 2020, Yong-Zhen Zhang’s team from the Shanghai lab in collaboration with handful of institutions isolated the virus from a 41-year-old worker in the seafood market in Wuhan.
- The genome sequence was posted on an open-access site, virological.org on January 11 and also deposited on GenBank. In a brief note accompanying the genome sequence data, the consortium said that other researchers were “free to download, share, use, and analyse the data”.
- It was based on this genome sequence data that researchers developed the first test kits to diagnose the virus.
What are Coronaviruses?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, including some that cause the common cold to some that cause major diseases such as the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).
- The World Health Organisation (WHO) has named the new coronavirus disease as ‘Covid-19’.
- The new name is taken from the words “corona”, “virus” and “disease”, with 2019 representing the year when it emerged (the outbreak was reported to the WHO on 31st December, 2019).
- The WHO wanted to avoid stigmatizing a country or particular group, so it chose a name that did not refer to a geographical location, an animal, an individual or a group of people.
- Moreover, the word coronavirus refers to the group of viruses it belongs to, rather than the latest strain. The latest strain has been designated ‘Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)’ by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses.