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Covid-19: First coronavirus was described in The BMJ in 1965

BMJ 2020; 369 doi: (Published 16 April 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;369:m1547

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  1. Elisabeth Mahase
  1. The BMJ

The first description of human coronavirus—a family of viruses that now includes SARS-CoV-2, the cause of the current covid-19 pandemic—was published in The BMJ in 1965.

The research, led by virologist David Tyrrell at the Common Cold Unit in Wiltshire, England, involved studying nasal washings from volunteers.1 The researchers found that they could grow several viruses associated with the common cold, but not all of them. One such sample, referred to as B814, turned out to be what we now know as a coronavirus.

Using the original B814 nasal swab from a “boy with a typical common cold in 1960,” the team obtained more secretions …

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