Following a conversation on twitter on NCoV-EMC, I quickly realised that I did not know enough about this virus. But then I realised that it is that NOBODY knows a lot about it. There are very little answers to a growing list of questions (for whatever politically/funding/technical reasons).
So, here are a few questions that I think really need answered about the novel emerging coronavirus (I.E if you gave me infinite amounts of money, PhD students and post-docs this is what I would look at). If you have thoughts on them (think they're rubbish/not important/drastically important) or have ways to answer them, please comment below!
1) Is the NCoV-EMC isolated the sole causative agent of the viral pneumonia observed across the Arabian Peninsula and Europe?
2) How many humans have been exposed/infected?
3) What is the true case fatality rate?
4) What is/are the reservoir specie(s)?
5) What animal species have been exposed/infected?
6)Why has it emerged/only been detected in the last year?
7) How efficient is human-human transmission?
8) How does NCoV-EMC induce disease in humans?
9) Is the cell-culture isolated NCoV-EMC the 'correct' wild-type viral sequence we should work on?
10) Is the virus adapting to the human population and if so, in what way and how could that impact pathogenicity/transmissibility?
11) What are we going to about it apart from sit back and wait?
Updated 2nd April 2013 from Martin Enserink, Matt Frieman and Helen Branswell
12) How similar is EMC to SARS during infection of the human airways?
13) What proteins/genes encoded by EMC inhibit - however effectively - the human innate immune response?
14) Why doesn't EMC replicate in lab mouse strains? (Apparently it doesn't)
15) What epidemiological studies are being done?
16) Is there an intermediate 'amplifying' host?
17) When did EMC first infect humans?
18) How do humans get infected?
and the clincher:
19) Why don't we know the answers to the above questions already?