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Hundreds of new bat bat viruses detected in China

An international team of researchers, in collaboration with the Wuhan Institute of Virology, detected “hundreds of new” coronaviruses in bats studied in China, according to a genetic analysis by the EcoHealth Alliance.

The experts responsible for this work warn that some of these new coronaviruses could even have “a high potential for transmission between species”, according to El País.

In addition, researchers at the EcoHealth Alliance, an entity that investigates emerging diseases that could threaten humanity, believe that this analysis can provide samples about the animal origin of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

The scientists, who submitted their work to be published in the journal Nature Communications, analyzed more than 1,200 genetic sequences of coronaviruses found in bats, 630 of which are new.

The authors claim that although coronaviruses similar to these caused diseases that affect humans, their “evolution and diversification remains poorly understood.”

In addition, they identified southwest China as “a diversification center” for coronaviruses, as it has diverse species of bats and a high human population density.

The researchers believe that this permanent contact provides the environment conducive to the jump from animal coronaviruses to humans.

Genetic analysis identified horseshoe bats as the primary reservoir of SARS-like viruses, whose “cousins” with the ability to infect humans caused the 2003 and most recent epidemics, COVID-19.

Researchers from the EcoHealth Alliance recommend implementing surveillance programs that detect new coronaviruses potentially dangerous to humans, mainly in China and neighboring countries.

For most scientists, the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus was transmitted to man by an animal. Some research points to the bat, while others target the pangolin, one of the world’s most trafficked mammals, according to National Geographic.

That would have happened at a market in Wuhan City where live wild animals are sold.

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