Four Common Cold Coronaviruses May Hold Clues to COVID-19's Evolution

Written by Henrik Rothen

Jan.16 - 2024 1:00 PM CET

Photo: Shutterstock.com
Photo: Shutterstock.com
Four Common Cold Coronaviruses May Hold Clues to COVID-19's Evolution.

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A recent study according to Science suggests that four coronaviruses, typically causing common colds, might provide insights into the future evolution of COVID-19.

The research, focusing on these lesser-known pathogens, indicates that they might have once been more lethal, hinting at the possibility that SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing COVID-19, could evolve into a milder form.

The study draws parallels between the current COVID-19 pandemic and the "Russian influenza" epidemic of 1889-1894, which some scientists now believe might have been caused by a coronavirus, not an influenza virus.

This theory is based on molecular clues suggesting that one of the current common cold coronaviruses, known as OC43, might have been the culprit. Researchers are planning to examine tissue samples from the late 19th century to confirm this hypothesis.

The four common cold coronaviruses (OC43, NL63, 229E, and HKU1) are now receiving increased attention as scientists explore their origins and interactions with the human immune system.

These viruses are believed to have once caused more severe diseases, which raises the possibility that COVID-19 could follow a similar path to becoming less virulent over time.

This research not only sheds light on the potential trajectory of COVID-19 but also emphasizes the importance of understanding the evolution and impact of coronaviruses on human health.

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