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Similar But Not The Same, This Is The Difference Between SARS And The COVID-19 Coronavirus


DenpaNews COVID-19 and SARS do come from the same big virus umbrella, namely the coronavirus. However, the two have quite significant differences. Let’s recognize the difference between the coronavirus that causes SARS and the virus that causes COVID-19.

Difference between COVID-19 and SARS coronavirus

The COVID-19 outbreak, which was first discovered in Wuhan, China, is often compared to SARS, which made the world restless in 2003.

They both come from the same country, namely China. However, as you know that the virus that causes COVID-19 is named as SARS-CoV-2 and is a new strain.

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Therefore, experts initially could not identify the type of virus that causes COVID-19. However, they knew that the virus originated from a coronavirus similar to SARS and MERS.

Here are some differences that you can recognize regarding COVID-19 and SARS.

1. Symptoms

One of the mos noticeable differences between the COVID-19 coronavirus and SARS is the symptoms they cause.

Although the symptoms of COVID-19 and SARS look similar and both attack the respiratory system, the two turn out to have slight differences.

According to the CDC , the common symptoms experienced by COVID-19 positive patients are quite similar to those of other illnesses, such as:

  • fever over 38°C
  • dry cough
  • hard to breathe.

Meanwhile, patients suffering from SARS experienced more varied symptoms, such as:

  • fever
  • cough
  • body feels weak and sore
  • headache
  • hard to breathe
  • diarrhea

At first glance it looks the same, but in some cases there are patients who are positive for COVID-19 without showing any symptoms. However, these patients can still transmit the virus to others.

Therefore, the COVID-19 and SARS coronaviruses can be distinguished by symptoms that do look similar, but are actually different.

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2. Severity

Apart from symptoms, another fairly noticeable difference between the COVID-19 coronavirus and SARS is the severity. The number of cases of COVID-19 is indeed much higher than that of SARS.

However, it is estimated that there are 20% of COVID-19 patients who need to be hospitalized and a few of them require breathing apparatus, such as ventilators. This is because most patients develop a fairly serious illness due to a viral infection, such as pneumonia.

Meanwhile, SARS caused more severe conditions in general than COVID-19. It is estimated that there are 20 to 30% of SARS patients who require a ventilator during treatment.

However, estimates of the COVID-19 death rate will vary as the number continues to grow and depends on other factors. Starting from the condition of the infected country to the characteristics of the population.

Until recently the percentage of COVID-19 deaths was estimated to be between 0.25 to 4 percent. However, the number of patients who recovered was far more than those who died, so it can be said that the death rate was lower than that of SARS.

This is because SARS is said to be more deadly than the COVID-19 coronavirus with a death percentage of around 10 percent of the total number of cases. In addition, the effect of COVID-19 on certain groups was different from that of SARS.

3. Contagion

One thing that makes SARS and the COVID-19 coronavirus quite different is the rate of transmission. Unlike SARS, COVID-19 has a fairly high number of cases because it is easier to infect from one person to another.

This may be because the amount of virus in COVID-19 patients is present in the nose and throat shortly after symptoms appear.

This transmission is quite different from SARS. In the case of SARS, the number of viruses will continue to increase when the virus has ‘lived’ in the body for several days.

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Therefore, the transmission of COVID-19 is much easier because when the initial symptoms have just occurred, the virus can spread to other people earlier before the patient’s condition worsens.

In fact, as previously mentioned, COVID-19 positive patients can transmit the virus before symptoms appear. Cases like this were not found in SARS, so the transmission of COVID-19 was much faster.

4. Genome

Recently there was a study published in the journal The Lancet which revealed the complete genetic information (genome) of SARS-CoV-2 . SARS-CoV-2 is the name for the virus that causes COVID-19.

The study showed that SARS-CoV-2 was more closely related to the coronavirus in bats than to the virus that causes SARS. This proves that COVID-19 has a genetic similarity to the SARS virus by 79 percent.

One thing you need to remember is that when viruses enter cells, they need to interact with proteins on the cell surface, aka receptors. Then, the virus will spread through the protein on the surface.

When this virus was analyzed with other coronaviruses, the results were quite interesting: SARS-CoV-2 was more similar to the coronavirus in bats.

5. Virus binding process

Actually, until now, experts are still in the research process to see how the binding process of the COVID-19 coronavirus and how it differs from SARS. The results are quite variable because the study was done with the protein, not the virus as a whole.

According to research from Cell , SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV actually use the same host cell receptors. Both viruses also use viral proteins that are used to enter host cells and bind to receptors with the same affinity.

However, other studies have tried to compare the areas of viral proteins that are responsible for binding to host cell receptors. Researchers saw that SARS-CoV-2 binds to host cell receptors with a higher affinity than SARS.

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In essence, if the COVID-19 coronavirus has a higher affinity for its host cell receptors, this could explain why COVID-19 spreads more easily than SARS.

6. Treatment

Until now, there is no medicine that can specifically cure the COVID-19 and SARS coronavirus.

The team of doctors has made every effort to combine several antiviral drugs with other drugs so that patients are healthier and the body is able to fight the virus. Starting from lopinavir , ritonavir, to chloroquine are used to relieve the patient’s symptoms.

Meanwhile, SARS patients have been shown to be effectively treatable with lopinavir , ritonavir , and a new broad-spectrum antiviral drug called remdesivir .

What’s more, for COVID-19 patients who require a ventilator, the drugs given will also be different. In addition to antiviral drugs, patients with this condition also need intravenous fluids, oxygen, and other drugs that suit their symptoms.

Therefore, COVID-19 patients need to be hospitalized or self-quarantine so that their condition can be monitored and it doesn’t make it easier for the virus to infect other people.

Coronavirus COVID-19 and SARS do have more in common. However, it is important to know what the differences are so that it can be seen that what disease is actually being experienced.

Don’t forget to make efforts to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 by maintaining health and body hygiene and keeping a distance from other people, aka physical distancing .

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