Viruses can be deadly, but are pretty simple things. They are composed of a few proteins and a small amount of genetic material, and can be completely characterized fairly easily. Back in 2003, it took a few months for scientists to fully sequence the 29,727 nucleotides of the SARS virus genome. In comparison, it took around a month for Chinese scientists to do the same for the SARS-Cov-2 coronavirus, the genome of which is comparable in size to the SARS virus. That’s because the technology used for sequencing improves with advances in computing power, and today’s machines are orders of magnitude more powerful than the ones we used two decades ago. This is also why testing a patient for coronavirus today takes a few hours and costs around ₹5,000.