Scientists find bats with Covid-like viruses in Laos caves

Scientists have discovered another clue to the origins of the virus that causes Covid-19, with bats living in caves in Laos found to be carrying a similar pathogen that experts suggest could potentially infect humans directly.

The virus has killed millions since it emerged in China in late 2019, and controversy continues to swirl around where it came from.

Some experts say it is animal-driven but others have pointed to the possibility the pathogen leaked from a lab.

Researchers from France’s Pasteur Institute and the National University of Laos said their findings showed that viruses genetically close to the SARS-CoV-2 virus “exist in nature” among bat species in the limestone caves of northern Laos, which neighbours China.

Of the viruses they identified among the hundreds of bats tested in Vientiane Province, three were found to closely resemble the virus that causes Covid-19, particularly in the mechanism for latching on to human cells.

“The idea was to try to identify the origin of this pandemic,” Marc Eloit, who leads the Pasteur Institute’s pathogen discovery laboratory, told AFP.

Eloit, whose team analysed the samples collected, said there were still key differences between the viruses found and SARS-CoV-2.

But he said the work was “a major step forward” in identifying the pandemic’s origin, confirming the theory that the coronavirus that has spread across the world could have started with living bats.

The authors of the study, which has been submitted to Nature for peer review, warned that their findings suggest the new viruses “seem to have the same potential for infecting humans as early strains of SARS-CoV-2”.

“People working in caves, such as guano collectors, or certain ascetic religious communities who spend time in or very close to caves, as well as tourists who visit the caves, are particularly at risk of being exposed,” the authors said.

‘Natural spillover’

International experts sent to China by the World Health Organization (WHO) in January concluded that it was most likely that the SARS-CoV-2 virus jumped from bats to humans via an intermediate animal.

A competing hypothesis that the virus leaked from a lab like the specialised virology laboratory in Wuhan was deemed “extremely unlikely”, although it has yet to be ruled out.

Martin Hibbert, Professor of Emerging Infectious Disease at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine — who was not involved in the Laos research — said the most closely related virus was found to be able to infect human cells “as easily” as SARS-CoV-2 and therefore might be capable of infecting humans.

But he stressed that the virus is “not an ancestor of the pandemic strain”.

“This work confirms the expected diverse nature of bat infecting coronaviruses and increases the evidence that natural spill-over events from bats to humans can occur,” said Hibbert.

The authors of the Laos study, which has been posted on the site Research Square, said their results suggest the pandemic coronavirus potentially evolved through mixing between different viruses and species of bats.

James Wood, Head of Department of Veterinary Medicine at University of Cambridge — who was also not involved in the research — said it suggests “recombination between different viruses was likely involved, rather than there being a simple evolution of a single lineage over a long period”.

In a comment to the Science Media Centre he said this not only underscores the likely role played by bats and perhaps other animals living closely together, but also shows the “risks inherent in living wildlife trade”, where markets can help drive cross-species zoonotic transmission.

Note: This article have been indexed to our site. We do not claim legitimacy, ownership or copyright of any of the content above. To see the article at original source Click Here

Related Posts
Taliban’s new UN envoy urges quick world recognition thumbnail

Taliban’s new UN envoy urges quick world recognition

The Taliban’s newly appointed envoy to the United Nations on Wednesday urged quick world recognition of Afghanistan’s new rulers even as the World Health Organisation raised the alarm of an impending health care disaster in the war-wracked country. The humanitarian crisis is one of the many challenges the Taliban face since their takeover of Afghanistan…
Read More
Experts warn of the increasing overmedicalization of death, call for rethink of how society cares for dying people thumbnail

Experts warn of the increasing overmedicalization of death, call for rethink of how society cares for dying people

Credit: Unsplash/CC0 Public Domain Health and social systems around the world are failing to give appropriate, compassionate care to people who are dying and their families. According to a new Lancet Commission, today's current overemphasis on aggressive treatments to prolong life, vast global inequities in palliative care access, and high end-of-life medical costs have lead…
Read More
‘성상납 의혹’ 고발된 이준석, 경찰에 의견서 제출…수사 본격 착수 thumbnail

‘성상납 의혹’ 고발된 이준석, 경찰에 의견서 제출…수사 본격 착수

이준석 국민의힘 대표가 18일 서울 여의도 국회 당대표실에서 뉴시스와 인터뷰를 하고 있다.   뉴시스 경찰이 국민의힘 이준석 대표가 성 상납 및 금품수수 등 의혹으로 고발된 사건 수사에 본격 착수했다. 20일 경찰에 따르면 서울경찰청 반부패·공공범죄수사대는 오는 25일 이 대표를 고발한 유튜브 채널 가로세로연구소 측을 불러 조사할 예정이다. 가세연은 최근 유튜브 방송에서 이 대표가 지난 2013년 김성진 아이카이스트 대표로부터…
Read More
CJ올리브네트웍스, 'NFT 사업' 갤럭시아메타버스와 협력 thumbnail

CJ올리브네트웍스, ‘NFT 사업’ 갤럭시아메타버스와 협력

CJ올리브네트웍스가 블록체인 전문기업 갤럭시아메타버스와 사업 협력을 통해 NFT(대체 불가능 토큰) 시장에서 영향력을 확대한다. CJ올리브네트웍스는 25일 갤럭시아메타버스와 ▲NFT 마켓 공동사업 추진 ▲NFT 플랫폼 기술 협업 ▲NFT 서비스 모델창출 등의 사업 협약(MOU)을 체결했다. CJ올리브네트웍스의 차별화된 방송미디어 IT기술 및 인공지능(AI) 역량과 갤럭시아메타버스의 NFT 발행 노하우를 결합해 NFT 시장에서 시너지를 창출할 계획이다. 첫 협력 사례로 CJ올리브네트웍스는 지난 14일 갤럭시아메타버스의…
Read More
Index Of News
Consider making some contribution to keep us going. We are donation based team who works to bring the best content to the readers. Every donation matters.
Donate Now

Subscription Form

Liking our Index Of News so far? Would you like to subscribe to receive news updates daily?