Researchers have identified five viruses that can cause disease in humans or livestock. In particular, it is closely related to SARS-CoV-2 and SARS.
According to Telegrah, the new study found a new nCoV-like virus identified in bats in southern China. Chinese and Australian scientists took samples from 149 bats in Yunnan province, which borders Laos and Myanmar. As a result, they identified five viruses that “have the potential to cause disease in humans or animals.” Among them, bat coronaviruses are closely related to SARS and SARS-CoV-2.
◆ Viruses recombine to form new pathogens
University of Sydney evolutionary biologist and virologist Professor Eddy Holmes, co-author of the study, said the findings suggest SARS-CoV-2-like viruses are still circulating in bats and continue to pose a risk.
The study is published as a preprint and is peer-reviewed. The authors found that bats are often infected with multiple viruses at the same time. This information is important because it shows the ability of existing viruses to swap (or recombine) their genetic code to form new pathogens.
Professor Jonathan Ball, a virologist at the University of Nottingham who was not involved in the study, said: ‘A single bat can contain many different viruses, and can sometimes harbor many viruses at once. In particular, the coronavirus co-infection virus related as .
◆ Obvious threat
Professor Stuart Neal, head of the infectious diseases department at King’s College London, added: ‘This study provides very important insights into the evolution and ecology of coronaviruses and the extent to which they frequently reproduce, combine and transform. into new species”.
The expert stressed that this is also evidence of the clear threat that exists on the risk of spreading new infectious diseases to humans.
An analysis previously estimated that up to 400,000 people contract the virus from bats each year in southern China and Southeast Asia.
One of the five viruses flagged as “concerned” has characteristics of both SARS and SARS-CoV-2. SARS has killed 774 people and infected more than 8,000 since its outbreak in 2003. In the case of SARS-CoV-2, the death toll is in the tens of millions.
The name of this virus is BtSY2.
Notably, BtSY2 has a receptor binding domain very similar to nCoV. The receptor binding domain is part of the spike protein that viruses use to attach themselves to human cells. This is what most Corona 19 vaccines are aiming for right now.
BtSY2 is also the most nCoV-like of all time. This suggests that BtSY2 can also infect humans.
‘This is very similar to the BAANAL bat virus from Laos and another virus we have seen in China,’ said Professor Holmes.
The new study doesn’t explain how SARS-CoV-2 was first transmitted to humans and doesn’t rule out a laboratory accident that leaked the virus. However, it helps scientists monitor the potential evolution of the virus.
The study follows new analyzes presented at a health conference in Singapore in early November that suggest some bat coronaviruses share a common ancestor with the 2016 SARS-CoV-2. They are based on comparisons of coronavirus genome fragments .
Co-author Professor Joel Wartheim, an evolutionary biologist at the University of California, San Diego, said: ‘We need to sequence the entire viral genome of the spreading bat virus, not just fragments.’ If we don’t sequence the small pieces of this virus’s genome, we could miss important pieces that reveal the story of SARS-CoV-2.”