Healthcare systems are overwhelmed, economies are disrupted and governments impose lockdowns to contain the spread of the virus. Where did this novel coronavirus come from? In what way was it manifesting itself in humans? How was it being spread? We uncover the vital questions scientists ask as they grapple to understand this new virus, and its potential threat. We also speak to the scientists and experts leading the fight against this latest pandemic to develop vaccines and treatments in a bid to halt the coronavirus’ relentless spread.