- New strain appears to be more readily transmitted from human to human than Sars, Texas researchers find
- Further studies needed to explore human host cells’ role in spread between people, the report says
The deadly new
is up to 20 times more likely to bind to human cell receptors and cause infection than severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars), a new study by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin has found.
The novel coronavirus and Sars share the same functional host-cell receptor, called angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2).
The report, published on the website bioRxiv on Saturday, said the new coronavirus had around 10 to 20-fold higher affinity – the degree to which a substance tends to combine with another – for human ACE2 compared with Sars.
But the researchers added that further studies were needed to explore the human host-cell receptor’s role in helping the new virus to spread from person to person.
“Compared with SARS-CoV, 2019-nCoV appears to be more readily transmitted from human to human,” the report of the study said. “The high affinity of 2019-nCoV S for human ACE2 may contribute to the apparent ease with which 2019-nCoV can spread from human to human.”
The disease caused by the new coronavirus, which the World Health Organisation (WHO) has named Covid-19, has killed more than 1,800 people and infected over 70,000 worldwide.
The number of Covid-19 deaths is more than double the global figure of 813 attributed by the WHO to the Sars epidemic of 2002-03.