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WHO On Seemingly Sporadic Beta2c Coronavirus Infections
Recombinomics Commentary 00:30
March 19, 2013

A number of unanswered questions remain, including the virus reservoir, the means by which seemingly sporadic infections are being acquired, the mode of transmission between infected persons, the clinical spectrum of infection and the incubation period.

The above comments initiate the background section of the March 18 revision of the WHO interim nCoV surveillance recommendations, where the word “seemingly” looms large.  The epidemiology and sequence data leaves little doubt that the number of nCoV cases is orders of magnitude higher than the 16 confirmed and 11 probable cases, which are clearly not “sporadic”.
All five of the human nCoV sequences are virtually identical to the consensus sequence, which is not closely related to any bat sequence, supporting significant human to human transmission.  However, detection of the nCoV in upper respiratory tract samples is a challenge, so clusters of mild cases linked to confirmed cases are small because the milder cases are not confirmed and the sustained transmission is not detected.
However, the WHO's use of the phrase “seemingly sporadic” is in preparation for the acknowledgement of sustained transmission prior to the declaration of an nCoV SARS-like pandemic.

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