More than a dozen Britons have been tested for the deadly virus, with the NHS now under orders to question everyone with flu-like symptoms to stop the spread. Health Secretary Matt Hancock has warned of the likelihood that cases of coronavirus will soon be seen in Britain as part of a “rapidly developing” outbreak which has already killed 18 people of the 630 confirmed cases worldwide. Currently known as 2019-nCoV, the virus is understood to be a new strain of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) that killed nearly 800 people in the early Noughties.
The new strain has been found to be at least 70 percent similar in genome sequences to the early-2000 breakout known as SARS-CoV, an animal virus believed to have originated from bats, which first infected humans in the Guangdong province of southern China in 2002.
Two years after the breakout, research was put forwards to suggest that protease inhibitors, a class of antiviral drugs used to treat HIV/AIDS, could be used to treat SARS.
The study revealed that one of the drugs known as nelfinavir “strongly inhibited relation of the SARS coronavirus,” leading to the decrease of toxins in already infected cells.
It concluded that “nelfinavir could decrease the production of virus from cells".
Coronavirus is posing a problem globally (Image: GETTY)
20 million have been quarantined in China (Image: GETTY)
Expression of viral antigens was much lower in infected cells treated with nelfinavir than in untreated infected cells
In 2006, the World Health Organisation (WHO) expert panel on SARS treatment requested a systematic review and comprehensive summary of protease inhibitor treatments used for SARS-infected patients in order to guide future treatment and identify priorities for research.
In the same year, scientists found success in using other protease inhibitors including lopinavir, ritonavir and ribavirin on 41 patients with SARS – the same disease strain found in the new outbreak of coronavirus.
That study found all three treatments produce “significantly lower” negative