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‘Really Diabolical’: Inside the Coronavirus That Outsmarted Science

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‘Really Diabolical’: Inside the Coronavirus That Outsmarted Science

Taken on its own terms, SARS-CoV-2 is the infectious disease success of the past 100 years.

Almost unmatched in the annals of emerging human contagions, it has parlayed a few chance infections into a pandemic of around 27 million confirmed cases so far.

Doctors long expected the advent of such a virus , but even so, the shrewdness of the coronavirus caught many by surprise, and goes a long way to explaining how the world has struggled to contain it ever since.

“We underestimated it,” said Peter Piot, the head of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and a co-discoverer of Ebola, who fell victim to the coronavirus himself in March. Dr. Qian Zhang at Rockefeller University retrieves blood samples from a centrifuge as part of a project to study how the coronavirus affects different people.

Photo: KHOLOOD EID for The Wall Street Journal Modern travel made it easy for the new coronavirus to spread to frequent fliers. It slipped unnoticed aboard a cruise ship in Japan and into Zumba classes in South Korea. It infected mourners at a funeral in suburban New York, a choir in Skagit County, Wash., and students on spring break in Florida.

Initially, it was widely believed the virus made its home in bats, which harbor hundreds of different kinds of coronaviruses. But it ventured into new species.

In Hong Kong, Yuen Kwok-yung had been waiting more than a decade for a virus like this to surface.The 63-year-old infectious diseases professor at the University of Hong Kong became enthralled with bat coronaviruses since making the connection between bats and the original SARS outbreak in 2003, […]

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