Why do some coronaviruses become pandemic threats when others do not?

Benjamin L. Rice, Justin Lessler, Clifton McKee, C. Jessica E. Metcalf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


ADUes:pPiteleamsuecltoipnlfeirsmptihllaotvaellrheeavdeinntgsleavnedlsasrheorretpcrhesaeinntsedocfotrrarencstmly:ission on at least 4 continents, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) has never triggered a pandemic. By contrast, its relative, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARSCoV- 2) has, despite apparently little, if any, previous circulation in humans. Resolving the unsolved mystery of the failure of MERS-CoV to trigger a pandemic could help inform how we understand the pandemic potential of pathogens, and probing it underscores a need for a more holistic understanding of the ways in which viral genetic changes scale up to population- level transmission.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere3001652
JournalPLoS biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Neuroscience
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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