Complicating Infections Associated with Common Endemic Human Respiratory Coronaviruses.Health Secur. 2021 Mar-Apr; 19(2):195-208.HS
Coronaviruses OC43, 229E, NL63, and HKU1 are endemic human respiratory coronaviruses that typically cause mild to moderate upper respiratory infections, similar to the common cold. They also may cause simple and complicated lower respiratory infections, otitis media, asthma exacerbations, gastroenteritis, and a few systemic complications. These viruses are usually seasonal (with winter dominance) and affect nearly all age groups. The seasonal and annual variation in virus prevalence has implications for understanding the concept of acquired immunity and its persistence or diminution. Coronaviruses generally have outbreak potential in susceptible populations of any age, particularly in patients with comorbidities, who tend to have increased clinical disease. These 4 coronaviruses are often found in the context of what appears to be coinfection with other pathogens, but especially other viruses. If coronaviruses are not specifically tested for, the sole detection of a viral copathogen would suggest the pathogen is the causative agent, when a coronavirus may be culpable, or both. The detection of these viruses in circumstances where respiratory viruses are generally sought in clinical samples is, therefore, justified. These pathogens can be chronically shed from the respiratory tract, which is more likely to occur among immunocompromised and complicated patients. These viruses share the potential for genetic drift. The genome is among the largest of RNA viruses, and the capability of these viruses to further change is likely underestimated. Given the potential disease among humans, it is justified to search for effective antiviral chemotherapy for these viruses and to consider uses in niche situations should effective therapy be defined. Whereas SARS-CoV-2 may follow the epidemiological pattern of SARS-CoV and extinguish slowly over time, there is yet concern that SARS-CoV-2 may establish itself as an endemic human respiratory coronavirus similar to OC43, 2299E, NL63, and HKU1. Until sufficient data are acquired to better understand the potential of SARS-CoV-2, continued work on antiviral therapy and vaccination is imperative.