Coronavirus Research Before 2020

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Coronavirus Research Before 2020

COVID-19 was discovered because scientists were previously familiar with coronaviruses, including their form and how to detect them. Their roots had also been established (zoonotic with specific animal carriers). Furthermore, knowledge of virus mutations had led to the anticipation that new coronaviruses will emerge, their virulence differing from that of previously discovered coronaviruses. While the virulence of COVID-19 and the time of its appearance could not be predicted, its emergence was acknowledged as a possibility. Furthermore, prior coronavirus research has identified a set of symptoms from previous epidemics, tested a variety of therapies, tried vaccinations, and put preventative measures in place. COVID-19 biomedical and public health researches could thus draw on a body of earlier research. Assessing how COVID-19 varies from previous diseases, for example, could assist speed up new biomedical and public health studies.

Some studies, such as “Repurposing antivirals as prospective treatments for SARS-CoV-2: From SARS to COVID-19” (Gómez-Ros, López-Agudelo, & Ramrez-Malule, 2020), make this point explicitly. It appeared to be a general tendency, thus older coronavirus research will receive a lot of new attention in 2020, but more evidence is needed to corroborate this. Three coronavirus illnesses have been identified as having a major impact on humans. Other coronaviruses are harmless to humans or exclusively infect a few animal species. Despite the possibility that prior coronavirus research will become more valuable in 2020, there is little evidence that interest in SARS and MERS research has increased as a result of COVID-19. Even though the outcome was widely expected, a favorable finding would empirically confirm the significance of continuous research into diseases linked to prospective pandemics. The article examined the problem and compares the present academic influence of COVID-19 research to previous coronavirus research to determine their current relative value. It’s unclear whether older coronavirus studies might have a greater impact.

Some bibliometric studies have looked at the impact of coronavirus research, primarily focusing on the number and types of articles indexed in important scholarly databases. Because coronaviruses come in a variety of forms and can be the center of a publication or be less vital to a research endeavor, each study has operationalized its sample in different ways, and there is no singular method that everyone agrees on. All appear to have been created in 2020 as part of COVID-19. SARS, MERS, and COVID-19 publications were examined in a previous bibliometric analysis till March 25, 2020. For each disease, similar document types were produced, the volume of SARS and MERS research had declined with time, while COVID-19 research had received more citations (higher field normalized citation counts). This study used an all-encompassing search method, resulting in the discovery of 7,272 SARS records and 2,199 MERS materials (Hu, Chen, et al., 2020). As a result, research that is related to the three diseases but is not particularly about them may dominate this analysis.

The findings suggest that, for the first time, previous SARS and MERS studies received significant new attention in April–May 2020, almost definitely as a result of the new COVID-19 study. Nonetheless, past SARS and MERS research had significantly less academic effect than publications from 2020 that examined or contextualized prior SARS and MERS research in the context of COVID-19, at least as measured by Mendeley reader counts. This problem does not appear to have been looked into for other diseases in the same group. While studies of SARS and MERS have influenced COVID-19 research, this has happened disproportionately through new articles that have established explicit links to COVID-19 or translated SARS and MERS research into COVID-19 implications. This emphasizes the need of translating research.

The findings confirm that previous SARS and MERS research is relevant for the COVID-19 scholarship, as expected. According to the Mendeley readership data, research analyzing SARS and MERS studies for COVID-19 is very valuable in academia. It is, on average, more widely read than the previous main studies that support it. This also shows that Mendeley reader counts understate the academic influence of pre-COVID-19 coronavirus research because published scholars prefer to read the interpretive articles rather than the original studies. The findings suggest that in the future, when new diseases that are variations of recognized diseases occur, the findings should be taken into account. Prioritizing the publication of evaluations of previous research and interpreting it in the context of the new condition may be necessary.


Chahrour, M., Assi, S., Bejjani, M., Nasrallah, A. A., Salhab, H., Fares, M., & Khachfe, H. H. (2020). A bibliometric analysis of Covid-19 research activity: A call for increased output. Cureus, 12(3).

Hamidah, I., Sriyono, S., & Hudha, M. N. (2020). A bibliometric analysis of Covid-19 research using VOSviewer. Indonesian Journal of Science and Technology, 5(2), 34–41.