SARS-CoV-1 and SARS-CoV-2 seem very similar in terms of their nature and the way in which they entered the human population. SARS-CoV-1 appears to have been driven to extinction, but SARS-CoV-2, which causes covid-19, has only been successfully eradicated on islands like New Zealand and Taiwan.

Just from reading Wikipedia articles, I'm getting the impression that SARS-CoV-1 was relatively easy to eradicate, whereas SARS-CoV-2 will probably be endemic forever unless there is a vaccine that produces strong and long-lived immunity. Why the difference? Was SARS-CoV-1 not as easily spread by asymptomatic carriers? Did it have a lower R0? Or were we just lucky to have been able to nip it in the bud?

  • Please, what is WP (Washington Post?)? Also, did you look for an answer, and if so, what did you find (helpful or not)? Jun 12, 2020 at 16:01
  • @anongoodnurse: Edited the question to clarify that WP was Wikipedia. Yes, as stated in the question, that was where I looked for an answer, and I did not find anything helpful. That's why I'm asking a question here.
    – user19808
    Jun 12, 2020 at 18:17

1 Answer 1


Copying from another SE answer by me:

The elimination of SARS from the human population occurred via controlling the human-to-human spread through isolation and contact tracing. See https://apps.who.int/iris/handle/10665/70863 for a report on the epidemic and how cases and spread in different locations were handled.

SARS was more severe overall, such that there was much less asymptomatic/presymptomatic spread like is observed with SARS-nCoV-2/COVID-19. It was therefore easier to identify and isolate the infected individuals, and to trace their contacts and isolate those people as well. The case fatality rate was much higher, unfortunately, but the lack of widespread transmission kept the number of affected individuals to a manageable scope. The WHO report in the link above goes into more detail on both the SARS epidemiology as well as the public health response.

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