SARS unanswered questions

New York meeting explores remaining mysteries and clues about the new virus

Catherine Zandonella(catzan@nasw.org)
May 18, 2003

Even as the World Health Organization declared that severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is coming under control everywhere but in China, researchers meeting in New York on Saturday said that too little is known about the SARS virus to predict what will happen next. To gain some clues, the scientists looked to other coronaviruses to shed light on the new disease's next move.

Chief among the questions on their minds: Where did the new virus come from, what causes some people to become "super spreaders" of the virus, and how can scientists use years of expertise in developing treatments and vaccines for animal coronaviruses to design therapeutics for SARS?

"Perhaps if we spend more time studying disease in wildlife, we might learn enough to prevent diseases like SARS from causing problems in humans," said W. Ian Lipkin, director of the Center for Immunopathogenesis and Infectious Diseases at the Mailman School...

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