By Tony Winterburn •
Published: 10 Feb 2021 • 19:35
New Coronavirus Discovered In Bats In Thailand And Antibodies Could Slow The Pandemic. image: Wikipedia
New Coronavirus Discovered In Bats In Thailand And Antibodies Could Slow The Pandemic Down.
Bats in Thailand have been discovered with a new coronavirus that closely matches the one that causes COVID-19, scientists have said. The newly-identified virus known as RacCS203 was found in the blood of five horseshoe bats kept in an artificial cave at a wildlife sanctuary in eastern Thailand, according to a study published in Nature Communications.
Researchers led by Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok conducted genomic sequencing on the new virus. The research determined that it shares 91.5 per cent of the genetic code of Sars-CoV-2, which is the virus that causes COVID-19.
It is also highly similar to another coronavirus known as RmYN02, which is found in bats in Yunnan, China, researchers said. But researchers said the new virus has differences in its spike protein, which makes it impossible for it to infect human cells.
However, antibodies in the blood of the infected bats and other pangolins were able to neutralize the Sars-CoV-2 virus. Researchers said the discovery of the infected bats indicates that coronaviruses are more widespread in animals across Asia than previously known — and studying more creatures may uncover the origins of the pandemic.
“We need to do more surveillance in animals,” University of Singapore professor Lin-Fa Wang said. “In order to find the true origin, the surveillance work needs to go beyond the border of China.”
The findings align with an announcement recently from the World Health Organization that the pandemic likely emerged naturally and the coronavirus was not released from a laboratory as first thought.
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