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Med J Aust 2003; 178 (11): 586.
Published online: 2 June 2003

As this epidemic continues, scientists in Singapore have sequenced the viral genome of isolates from the local index patient and four contacts.1 Comparing the genotypes of these isolates with those from Canada, Hong Kong, Vietnam and China, it is emerging that they show genetic "signatures", allowing us to track their geographic origins. These findings on the newly dubbed SARS coronavirus are a two-edged sword: its genome is unlikely to change rapidly and the virus may thus not mutate to a benign infection but a vaccine may be more achievable (though still a long way off).2



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