New virus found in bats is 95% identical to Covid-19
London, March 13, 2021 (AltAfrica)-Bats and covid-19 have almost become synonymous since the discovery of the dreaded pandemic but without any scientific proof. But a newly-discovered virus found in a bat in China is 94.5% similar to Covid,
scientists have claimed. RpYN06 has almost entirely the same genetic make-up as SARS-CoV-2 – the coronavirus that causes Covid-19, according to researchers at Shandong First Medical University & Shandong Academy of Medical Sciences in Taian, China
They studied 411 samples collected from 23 bat species in a small region in Yunnan province, China, from May 2019 to November 2020.
Four viruses related to SARS-CoV-2 were discovered with RpYN06 found to be the closest relative.
However it was not thought to share the same spike protein, which is the main structure the virus uses to bind to and infect host cells.
The scientists say the study highlights the importance of tracking the likelihood of viruses spreading from animal species to humans, amid fears the next virus pandemic could be ‘far worse’ than Covid-19.
They wrote: ‘Our study highlights both the remarkable diversity of bat viruses at the local scale and that relatives of SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV circulate in wildlife species in a broad geographic region of Southeast Asia and southern China.
‘These data will help guide surveillance efforts to determine the origins of SARS-CoV-2 and other pathogenic coronaviruses
Bats have long been known to be a carrier of diseases that can be harmful to humans but many never develop the ability to cross-over.
Outbreaks of Ebola, Hendra virus and the three most recent coronavirus outbreaks – SARS, MERS and Covid-19 – have all be linked back to bats.
Scientists are still unclear over the origins of Covid-19 but it’s thought it could have spread from bats to humans via another animal species, possibly a pangolin.
The first known significant outbreak in Wuhan, China, may have been linked to the exotic food market in the city where wild species are sold as food.
The latest findings come after another coronavirus that is also very similar to Covid-19 was discovered in bats in eastern Thailand. This virus – RacCS203 – shares 91.5% of its genetic code with SARS-CoV-2.
But scientists from Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok said it is not thought to be able to infect humans as it is unable to bind to cells in the body because of differences in its spike protein