Since the SARS outbreak 18 years ago, a large number of severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronaviruses (SARSr-CoV) have been discovered in their natural reservoir host, bats1–4. Previous studies indicated that some of those bat SARSr-CoVs have the potential to infect humans5–7. Here we report the identification and characterization of a novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) which caused an epidemic of acute respiratory syndrome in humans in Wuhan, China. The epidemic, which started from 12 December 2019, has caused 2,050 laboratory-confirmed infections with 56 fatal cases by 26 January 2020. Full-length genome sequences were obtained from five patients at the early stage of the outbreak. They are almost identical to each other and share 79.5% sequence identify to SARS-CoV. Furthermore, it was found that 2019-nCoV is 96% identical at the whole-genome level to a bat coronavirus. The pairwise protein sequence analysis of seven conserved non-structural proteins show that this virus belongs to the species of SARSr-CoV. The 2019-nCoV virus was then isolated from the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid of a critically ill patient, which can be neutralized by sera from several patients. Importantly, we have confirmed that this novel CoV uses the same cell entry receptor, ACE2, as SARS-CoV.
Author：Peng Zhou, Xing-Lou Yang, Xian-Guang Wang, et al.