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Scientists race to unlock secrets of the coronavirus

What medicine knows about origins, risks and curability

Coronaviruses -- such as SARS, seasonal flu and the new strain that originated in China -- all have characteristic crownlike spikes. (Nikkei montage/Reuters, Kyodo)

TOKYO -- The coronavirus epidemic is the most threatening disease crisis to emerge from China since the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, in 2002. Like SARS, it threatens to spread to many countries: "This epidemic represents a clear and ongoing global health threat," says one study.

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