In 2018, two researchers with the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease at Fort Detrick put forth an ominous warning that coronavirus represents a highly pathogenic and dangerous virus that has emerged in human populations over the past decade and a half. Associated with novel respiratory syndromes, they move from person-to-person via close contact and can result in high morbidity and mortality caused by the progression to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). These two researchers were incredibly, and ominously, prescient.
New Coronaviruses Deadly
By 2018, Allison Totura and Sina Bavari, again researchers with Fort Detrick, discussed previous outbreaks involving SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV noting, “These coronaviruses may have the potential to cause devastating pandemics due to unique features in virus biology including rapid viral replication, broad host range, cross-species transmission, person-to-person transmission, person-to-person transmission, and lack of herd immunity in human populations.”
Although these first two outbreaks were contained by “diligent enforcement of public health measures” ominously they pointed to the threat of a “as-yet unknown BatCoV that causes severe disease in humans and makes antiviral therapeutics that broadly target coronaviruses a highly desirable commodity to ensure global public health.”
Instructing us back in 2018
Ms. Totura and Mr. Bavari essentially warned governments back in 2018 to start acting now when they noted that governments’ currently must “produce medical countermeasures that can protect vulnerable populations against known coronaviruses (SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV) but also could be effective against…novel highly pathogenic coronaviruses that may emerge from animal reservoir hosts.”
Predicting the Contagion
In an almost eerie threat, the researchers warned all that another coronavirus would come and although similar to SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, this next pathogenic coronavirus could target “human populations with potentially disastrous consequences.” Although in 2018 the authors felt there was sufficient disease surveillance in place, they cautioned that a pandemic of the current magnitude could be forthcoming noting that “biological factors that increase cross-species transmission or facilitate person-to-person spread may lead to future coronavirus strains not capable of being contained by timely quarantine of infected individuals.”
Back to the Future
There are undoubtedly other researchers that identified future waves of potentially deadly new strains of novel coronavirus. This particular warning documented in 2018 was too close for comfort. Based on TrialSite News ongoing observations of the more successful reactions in select countries, it can be assumed that government agencies, researchers and health systems are accumulating considerable actional data for heightened response and readiness. First, we must get through the current crisis then we must be ready to protect ourselves worldwide.
Allison Totura, ORISE postdoctoral research fellow, USAMRIID, US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases
Sina Bavari, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer, Scientific Director US Army Medical Research Institute of infectious Diseases (USAMRIID)