The Virus That Causes COVID-19 Has Been Found In Lab Freezers In Japan And Cambodia
The virus that causes Covid-19 is called SARS-CoV-2, and scientists have been keen to pinpoint the origin of it.
Two separate research groups have now found similar viruses, and it is hoped that this will begin to make the origin of COVID-19 clearer.
Two separate horseshoe bat samples have been found, and are relatives of the COVID-19 virus. These samples have been found in Japan and Cambodia and date from 2013 and 2010. While the virus is not an exact match, it is hoped that this research will shed light into how COVID-19 was spread to humans, and whether measures can be put in place to avoid further infections.
Nature News has reported that the virus has been found in two Shamel’s horseshoe bats in Cambodia from 2010. The sample taken is currently one of the most hopeful matches to SARS-CoV-2, and the genomes are still being sequenced. At the moment 70% of the genome has been sequenced, and RaTG13 was found, which looks like a very similar virus to SARS-CoV-2. The RaTG13 shares 96% of the SARS-CoV-2 genome, and may provide valuable insight.
In Japan, a study uncovered the virus in the frozen droppings of a Japanese horseshoe bat from 2013. The similarity found in the sample was less than the Cambadoian counterpart, but Rc-o319 was detected, and it shares 81% of its genome with SARS-CoV-2.
Despite these close genome matches, the researchers in Cambodia believe that a 97% similarity is needed to allow a full understanding of how the virus went from bats to humans.
It is hoped that by finding close relatives of the virus, the spread of the virus to humans can be properly attributed. At the moment, it seems that horseshoe bats are the initial source of the virus that has caused a global pandemic, but how it spread is a mystery.
Given this ongoing research and the uncertainty about the origin of the virus, some will feel it is best to reserve judgement about how the virus has been spread until conclusive results are found.
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