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Saudi Arabia SARS-CoV Cases Raise Concerns
Recombinomics Commentary 20:45
September 24, 2012

The HPA has compared the sequencing of the virus isolate from the 49 year old Qatari national with that of a virus sequenced previously by the Erasmus University Medical Centre, Netherlands. This latter isolate was obtained from lung tissue of a fatal case earlier this year in a 60 year-old Saudi national. This comparison indicated 99.5% identity, with one nucleotide mismatch over the regions compared.

The above comments from the Health Protection Agency in the UK describe the re-emergence of SARS (Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome)-CoV (coronavirus).  The HPA has only sequenced 200 BP, which is virtually identical to the same region for the earlier case from Saudi Arabia.  The larger sequence from the Netherlands indicates the current virus is related to bat cornonaviruses, which are the same group as the SARS-CoV which emerged in 2002.

In 2002 sequences from SARS-CoV were released almost in real time and were quickly designated as novel.  Release of sequences from these two recent (July and September) isolates would be useful. 

Media reports have already claimed that these isolates are distinct from the SARS-CoV from 2002/2003, but that distinction is far from clear because of similarities with bat CoV, which has been cited as the natural reservoir for the 2002/2003 outbreaks.

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