Chinese researchers find batch of new coronaviruses in bats

Chinese researchers find batch of new coronaviruses in bats
Top Stories
Chinese researchers said Thursday they had found a batch of new coronaviruses in bats including one that may be the second-closest yet, genetically, to the COVID-19 virus.

According to the researchers, their discoveries in a single, small region of Yunnan province, southwestern China show just how many coronaviruses there are in bats and how many have the potential to spread to people.

Weifeng Shi of the University of Shandong and colleagues collected samples from small, forest-dwelling bats between May, 2019 and November, 2020. They tested urine and feces as well as taking swabs from the bats mouths.

"In total, we assembled 24 novel coronavirus genomes from different bat species, including four SARS-CoV-2 like coronaviruses," the researchers wrote in a

One was very similar, genetically to the SARS-CoV-2 virus that s causing the current pandemic, they said -- a viral sample called RpYN06 taken from a horseshoe bat species called Rhinolophus pusillus.

It would be the closest strain to SARS-CoV-2 except for genetic differences on the spike protein, the knob-like structure that the virus uses when attaching to cells, they said.

Researchers are trying to find where SARS-CoV-2 came from. Although a bat is a likely source, it s possible the virus infected an intermediary animal. The SARS virus that caused an outbreak in 2002-2004 was tracked to an animal called a civet cat.

"Bats are well known reservoir hosts for a variety of viruses that cause severe diseases in humans and have been associated with the spillovers of Hendra virus, Marburg virus, Ebola virus and, most notably, coronaviruses. Aside from bats and humans, coronaviruses can infect a wide range of domestic and wild animals, including pigs, cattle, mice, cats, dogs, chickens, deer and hedgehogs," they wrote.

Most of the samples came from species of horseshoe bats. In 2017, researchers sampling a cave in Yunnan found viruses very close genetically to the SARS virus in horseshoe bats.

Three of the samples described in Thursday s report were also close to SARS genetically.

"Our study highlights the remarkable diversity of bat coronaviruses at the local scale, including close relatives of both SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV," they wrote. The bat species they sampled are common across Southeast Asia, including southwest China, Vietnam, Laos and elsewhere.

Although there s some controversy about the origin of the coronavirus pandemic, a World Health Organization report said the most likely source is an animal -- probably a bat.

People hunt and eat bats, and bats can infect other animals that are also hunted and eaten by people. Viruses can infect people when they handle or slaughter the animals.
Read more on CTVnews
News Topics :
Similar Articles :
Top Stories
A deep dive into the genetics of the novel coronavirus shows it seems to have spent some time infecting both bats and pangolins before it jumped into humans, researchers said...
There is ongoing debate among policymakers and the general public about where SARS CoV 2, the virus that causes COVID 19, came from. While researchers consider bats the most likely natural hosts for...
An international team of scientists whose funding for research on bat coronaviruses was recently yanked by the U.S. government has published what it calls the most comprehensive analysis ever done...
An analysis of 18 species of stationary and migratory bats living in Switzerland has discovered that they harbor viruses from 39 different viral families including some viruses with the...
And this casts further doubt on conspiracy theories that the virus causing Covid 19 was bioengineered or escaped from a laboratory, they added. Prof David Robertson, of the University of Glasgow,...