We might be at risk of contracting a new, very deadly, devastating virus from our food supply. The coronavirus is a piece of respiratory bacteria that can cause the lung disease that patients typically recover from. But in the right patient, symptoms can escalate quickly, in some instances turning fatal. The deadly virus is named after the British town where it first mutated, and was first identified in 2012. Because of its deadly pathogenous characteristics, we should probably expect it to be more prevalent than we thought, and because of that, the ongoing research needs to continue.
The paper by Yao Chen and Lucy Woolley, published in Nature, estimated the potential lifespan of the virus. Previously, researchers estimated its shelf life at 60 days, but their latest paper, looking at animals, also determined that the fungus is viable for 90 days.
The authors assumed that the infection occurs in a warm or humid environment, and were careful to account for the possible different conditions in international trade. However, when they compared the virus to viruses found to be relatively rare in humans, the estimate they came up with was in line with previous estimates.
There have been 2.5 million years of potential survival in the U.S. for the variant of the pathogen that the authors found. That compares to about 1 million years for the normal human infectious pathogen.
One study published in September, using single-cell DNA of the pathogen in mice, looked at the nature of the coronavirus and concluded that it is unrelated to other infectious diseases of the lung such as polio, which have similar symptoms.