Dr Tom Karagiannis is a researcher in the Diabetes Department of Monash University's Central Clinical School. This year his research has been focused on analysing molecular compounds of potential use to combat the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.
He explains that SARS-CoV-2 is the latest of a series of coronaviruses to jump from animals to humans, and there will be more in the future as we continue to have increased contact with wild animal populations given the decrease of their habitat.
Dr Karagiannis says that of the seven coronaviruses so far known to have affected humans, four are like simple rhinoviruses (relatively benign 'common cold' infections), and three have been the deadly current COVID-19 illness, and in the 2000s, MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV.
Dr Karagiannis says, "We dodged a bullet" with this COVID-19 pandemic, since its case fatality rate is 1%, vs MERS-CoV's case fatality of up to 34% and 10% for SARS-CoV. This is why, despite the advent of COVID-19 vaccines, research on medications for coronaviruses needs to be continued. What could happen next is that the inevitable next coronavirus migration from animals to humans could not only be highly transmissible, but more lethal than COVID-19.
We need to be prepared by keeping our research going.
See more about Dr Tom Karagiannis's research at: www.monash.edu/medicine/ccs/diabetes/research/karagiannis-group