(CNN)- Like coronaviruses before it, this one can live dormant outside a host’s body.
Once touched or inhaled, it uses proteins to latch onto and invade human cells—and then—make copies of itself — and heads into the bloodstream with the goal of invading more cells.
This sort of virus is less stable, and that leads to mutations, which can lead to the virus spreading between species.
More and more mutations, allow the virus to spread easily.
So where did it come from?
According to a study published in January, bats share most of the same genetic makeup as the novel coronavirus. But since it isn’t an exact match, it’s likely a bat had to infect another species — which then infected humans.
While there’s been a lot of research on which animal that could be –at this time — scientists don’t have that answer.
Right now, what we do know is that being infected by the novel coronavirus can lead to a dangerous respiratory disease called COVID-19.
Symptoms include fever, a deep, dry cough and shortness of breath.
Early reports suggesting the novel coronavirus came from snakes bought at a market in China were debunked.
Critics have also been skeptical about another recent idea that the pangolin — an endangered scaly, ant-eating creature — was the intermediate host.
Meanwhile, scientists continue their research.