Scientists in China have discovered a virus in a bat that is 94.5% identical to “Covid-19”, which strengthens the importance of tracking animal-borne viruses that have the ability to “spread” in humans.
Scientists previously expected that we may face a health emergency or a pandemic every five years, possibly caused by “zoonotic” diseases, when the infection is transmitted from animals to humans.
The threat of unknown viruses that can be transmitted to humans and potentially cause large-scale epidemics is known as “Disease X” by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Bats are known to host a wide range of viruses that can cause severe disease in humans.
RpYN06 has roughly the same genetic makeup as SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes “Covid-19”, according to researchers at Shandong First Medical University and Shandong Academy of Medical Sciences in Taian, China.
The team said that RpYN06 was the closest ever to some individual genes in the genetic makeup of TOVID-19.
However, to date, no viruses have been detected in bats that contain a “spike” protein such as SARS-CoV-2.
And the “spike” protein is the skeleton on the outside of the virus that it uses to bind to human cells.
In China, the team studied the genes of 411 samples collected from 23 species of bats in Yunnan Province in China during 2019 and 2020.
And they discovered four viruses associated with SARS-CoV-2, including RpYN06.
“The other three coronaviruses associated with SARS-CoV-2 were nearly identical in sequence,” the scientists wrote in their paper.
The scientists, led by Weifeng Shi, said: “The relatives of SARS-CoV-2 are spread over the wildlife species over a wide geographical area in Southeast Asia and Southern China.”
They added that their findings “highlight the remarkable diversity of bat viruses.” But they warned that “it is imperative that additional surveillance efforts cover a wider range of wildlife in this area to help track down the continuing consequences of viruses from animals to humans.”
This refers to the study that recently discovered another Corona virus that is closely related to “Covid-19” in bats in eastern Thailand, called RacCS203.
RacCS203 shares about 91.5% of its genetic code with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, but scientists from Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok said that he does not believe that these viruses are able to infect humans because they are unable to bind to cells in the body due to their differences in the “spike” protein.
They assumed that the virus must change shape in order to effectively infect other species or humans.
Source: The Sun