Candidate historical events for the emergence of Human Coronavirus OC43 : A critical reassessment of the molecular evidence

Shaw, Brandon and Gatherer, Derek (2023) Candidate historical events for the emergence of Human Coronavirus OC43 : A critical reassessment of the molecular evidence. PLoS One, 18 (5): e0285481. ISSN 1932-6203

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The "Russian Influenza"-coronavirus theory (RICT) proposes that the pandemic of 1889-1892, conventionally regarded as an influenza pandemic, was caused by the emergence of human coronavirus OC43 (HCoV-OC43) as a zoonosis of bovine coronavirus (BCoV). RICT is based on a Bayesian phylogenetic calculation of the date of the most recent common ancestor (MRCA) of HCoV-OC43 and BCoV. The theory also draws on comparison of both symptoms and some epidemiological parameters of the best studied coronavirus pandemic, i.e. COVID-19, with those reported in 1889-1892. The case is completed with circumstantial evidence involving a panzoonotic among cattle in the decade prior to the "Russian Influenza", with characteristics suggesting it may have been caused by BCoV. In this paper, we review the Bayesian phylogenetic evidence for RICT, replicating previous studies and adding our own, in each case critically reviewing the suitability of the datasets used and the parameters applied. We conclude that the most probable date for the MRCA of HCoV-OC43 and BCoV is 1898-1902. This is a decade too late for compatibility with RICT but happens to coincide with another serious outbreak of respiratory illness, reported in both the USA and the UK, in the winter of 1899-1900.

Item Type:
Journal Article
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PLoS One
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Copyright: © 2023 Shaw, Gatherer. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
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Research Output Funding/no_not_funded
?? oc43hcov-oc43coronaviruscoronaviridaehuman coronaviruspandemiczoonosishistorybayesian phylogeneticsvictorian erano - not fundedgeneral agricultural and biological sciencesgeneral biochemistry,genetics and molecular biologygeneral medicineagricultural and ??
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Deposited On:
09 May 2023 09:55
Last Modified:
16 Jul 2024 12:02