Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), is the scientific name of the virus  previously known by the provisional name 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), is a positive-sense single-stranded RNA virus.


SARS-CoV-2 (false colour in red) around and in epithelial cilia cells of the lungs. (Ehre Lab/UNC School of Medicine). image: sciencealert

 It is contagious in humans and is the cause of the ongoing pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) that has been designated a Public Health Emergency of International Concern by the World Health Organization (WHO)

The genetic map of (SARS-CoV-2). 29,903 bases long image: wikipedia/Furfur

SARS-CoV-2 has close genetic similarity to bat coronaviruses, from which it likely originated. 

 An intermediate reservoir such as a pangolin is also thought to be involved in its introduction to humans. From a taxonomic perspective, SARS-CoV-2 is classified as a strain of the species severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus (SARSr-CoV)


Digitally colourised electron micrographs of SARS-CoV-2 (yellow) emerging from human cells cultured in a laboratory. image: wikipedia/NIAID Rocky Mountain Laboratories (RML), U.S. NIH

How it works/infects 

Each SARS-CoV-2 virion is approximately 50–200 nanometres in diameter.

 Like other coronaviruses, SARS-CoV-2 has four structural proteins, known as the S (spike), E (envelope), M (membrane), and N (nucleocapsid) proteins; the N protein holds the RNA genome, and the S, E, and M proteins together create the viral envelope. 

 The spike protein is responsible for allowing the virus to attach to the membrane of a host cell.

How much it spreads

The basic reproduction number Ro of the virus has been estimated to be between 1.4 and 3.9. This means that each infection from the virus is expected to result in 1.4 to 3.9 new infections when no members of the community are immune and no preventive measures are taken.

source adapted from: Wikipedia contributors. (2020, March 17). Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 02:51, March 17, 2020, from