Governments are imposing confinement measures on their populations, trusting that if there is no more transmission the virus will die out. But since this coronavirus appeared a first time, what could prevent it from reappearing any number of times ?

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    $\begingroup$ SE Biology is a question and answer site — not a discussion site or a site for floating ideas. It is concerned with the mechanisms of biological processes, not medical or social aspects of biology. For one of these reasons I think that your question on the coronavirus outbreak is off-topic here. Question of a medical nature might be on-topic at SE Medical Sciences. Otherwise you are advised to consult more appropriate reputable sources for such information, some of which are listed here. $\endgroup$
    – David
    Commented Mar 21, 2020 at 15:26

2 Answers 2


Frame challenge answer: you are jumping to the conclusion that they really hope the virus will "die out". But it's more likely they adopted those measures to slow its progression to a manageable degree. See e.g. this conceptual image from ECDC

enter image description here

Even if there are new outbreaks of COVID-19 in the future, when they happen is not irrelevant, as we could be much better prepared given the current/ongoing research on both (antiviral) treatments and possibly a vaccine as well.

Regarding the "meat" of the question, it's a matter of probabilities, not certainties. It was and is generally assumed that other [bat etc.] coronaviruses will jump hosts to humans in the future.

Besides SARS, another (much) lesser known cross-species jump actually occurred in China in 2016 with SADS-CoV, which killed thousands of pig[let]s, but was not infectious to humans. Annoyingly enough for the Chinese pig farmers, SADS-CoV re-emerged in early 2019 despite the fact that there were no cases reported between May 2017 and January 2019.

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    $\begingroup$ I wish the (probably high-rep) users who downvote answers here, would put the effort into closing questions instead, if answering off-topic (??) questions is the reason for downvoting answers. Otherwise please explain why you are downvoting answers... $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 21, 2020 at 14:32
  • $\begingroup$ Why close a question that, even if poorly worded, is likely to be of interest to many people? $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Commented Mar 21, 2020 at 18:15
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    $\begingroup$ @jamesqf: I guess you meant to ask David that. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 21, 2020 at 18:16
  • $\begingroup$ No, I meant it as a general comment to anyone who cares to read it. Of course it's rhetorical, because we can easily guess why certain questions are closed, and lots of interesting comments deleted. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Commented Mar 22, 2020 at 17:55

This recent article explores the origin of the current covid-19 by performing comparative genomic analyses: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-020-0820-9

One of the main point of the article is that to be able to answer your question one would need to know how the virus started to emerge in humans in the first place.

The authors describe 3 main hypotheses:

  1. Natural selection in an animal host before zoonotic transfer
  2. Natural selection in humans following zoonotic transfer
  3. Selection during passage

The first two hypotheses are probably more likely to be an explanation the 3rd being very unlikely (I leave the details to the article).

Here is a scheme coming from a different article (Source: https://www.nature.com/articles/nm.3985.pdf?origin=ppub) explaining graphically hypotheses 1 and 2 as emergence paradigms: enter image description here

Now your answer to your question is in the conclusion of the first mentioned article:

"In the midst of the global COVID-19 public-health emergency, it is reasonable to wonder why the origins of the pandemic matter. Detailed understanding of how an animal virus jumped species boundaries to infect humans so productively will help in the prevention of future zoonotic events. For example, if SARS-CoV-2 pre-adapted in another animal species, then there is the risk of future re-emergence events. In contrast, if the adaptive process occurred in humans, then even if repeated zoonotic transfers occur, they are unlikely to take off without the same series of mutations. "

Essentially if it is hypothesis #1, it could be likely. If it is hypothesis #2 less likely. I don't think there is enough evidence yet to prove or disprove any of the two.


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