US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — Scientists have discovered another virus in bats, the genetic code of which is 93% identical to the new coronavirus. The authors of the study believe that this may be evidence of the natural, not laboratory, origin of the infection, which has already infected 4.5 million people
An international team of scientists has discovered a new virus in Chinese bats, whose genetic code is 93.3% identical to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which has already infected more than 4 million people worldwide. The study results were published in the journal Current Biology on May 10. The virus was found among samples from 227 bats, which were collected from May to October 2019 in the Chinese province of Yunnan in the south of the country (an outbreak of a new coronavirus began in Wuhan in Hubei province in central China).
The virus found in bats was called RnYM02. At the same time, in February, another study in China revealed another 96% RaTG13 virus similar to SARS-CoV-2 – 96%. But none of these two viruses is a direct ancestor of the new coronavirus, Business Insider notes . “After the discovery of SARS-CoV-2, several unfounded assumptions appeared that the virus was of laboratory origin. <…> Our study shows that such characteristics can manifest themselves naturally. This is convincing evidence against [theory] that SARS-CoV-2 appeared as a result of a leak from the laboratory, ” commented one of the study’s authors, Weifeng Shi , on the discovery of RnYM02.
Viruses are usually transmitted from an animal-to-human host, Business Insider agrees: he cites an outbreak of swine and bird flu, Ebola, or severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). “Although it may be possible that a sample of bat coronavirus was leaked from the laboratory, it is much more likely that this virus was naturally transmitted from bats to intermediate individuals before passing to humans,” the portal said. Three out of four emerging infectious diseases are transmitted to humans from other species, he says. According to Business Insider, at least four epidemics in the past 45 years, including SARS, have been caused by bats.
So, according to researchers, SARS was transmitted to humans after civet, the carnivorous animals found in Africa and Asia, were infected by bats. Another coronavirus, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), was first transmitted from bats to camels and went undetected for more than ten years before being transmitted to humans, Business Insider added. Bats carry a substantially larger share of viruses than other mammals, quotes edition of the study in 2017. A 2019 study found that bats carry over 200 coronaviruses.
“They’re perfect carriers if you’re a virus, because bats fly long distances, carrying the disease, while they themselves don’t get sick,” explains Business Insider. One study published in March 2019, it was predicted that bats could be the cause of a new outbreak of coronavirus in China.
The possibility of artificial origin of the coronavirus from a laboratory in the Chinese city of Wuhan is claimed by the US authorities. Donald Trump said that Washington has facts confirming this, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said evidence that China was trying to hide the leak of infection. Beijing denied the allegations. The World Health Organization has argued that evidence indicates the animal origin of the virus.
According to the data on May 16, 272,043 cases of coronavirus infection confirmed in Russia. Killed 2537 people with confirmed disease. Worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University, 4.56 million cases have been identified . Russia is in second place in terms of the number of infected, the first place is taken by the USA (1.44 million cases). The top five are also Great Britain, Spain and Italy.
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