Coronaviruses (CoV) have been identified as human pathogens since the 1960’s. Coronaviruses infect humans and many other vertebrates . Illness in humans is mostly respiratory or gastrointestinal infections, however symptoms can range from the common cold to more severe lower respiratory infections such as pneumonia . A broad range of coronaviruses are found in bats, which might play a crucial role in the virus evolution of alpha– and betacoronavirus lineages in particular. However, other animal species can also act as an intermediate host and animal reservoir.
Zoonotic coronaviruses have emerged in recent years to cause human outbreaks, such as the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003 and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) since 2012.
Additional zoonotic coronaviruses have emerged and caused outbreaks in humans: SARS-CoV (2002, Betacoronavirus, subgenus Sarbecovirus), and MERS-CoV (2012, Betacoronavirus, subgenus Merbecovirus). In late 2019, a novel coronavirus related to a cluster of pneumonia cases in Wuhan, China (SARS-CoV-2) was identified. The SARS-CoV-2 is closely related to SARS-CoV and genetically clusters within Betacoronavirus subgenus Sarbecovirus