There may be close relatives of coronaviruses roaming the world that have not yet been detected, an indication that the current pandemic will not be the last to threaten humans.
New research published on Tuesday in the journal Nature Microbiology has found that the current strain, known in scientific literature as SARS-CoV-2, is genetically derived from other known viruses, 40 to 70 years ago. Bats roam.
Because coronaviruses recombine and often evolve into new species, it is all but certain that other strains have evolved within those populations in China over the years of those populations. This means that other viruses that are more closely related to SARS-CoV-2 than their current closest known relative may reduce the likelihood of future outbreaks.
“From this ancestor in the 1960s and 1970s, there are probably other descendants, possibly other lineages that have been present in bats for the last 40 or 50 or 60 years and have been silently operational,” said MacIe Bonnie, a biologist for the center of the pen. Co-author of infectious disease dynamics and studies in Stat. “This means that there will probably be another coronavirus epidemic. Whether it is in 2025 or 2075, no one knows. “
Research found that while the SARS-CoV-2 virus can also infect pangolins, native to China, Southeast Asia and Sabaharan Africa, the virus was most likely sent directly to humans from a bat.
“There is no evidence that pangolins are facilitating adaptation to humans,” the researchers wrote.
The SARS-CoV-2 virus is a sarbecovirus, a subset of the coronovirus family that also includes SARS, another virus that causes severe respiratory disease in humans. The virus most closely associated with SARS-CoV-2, known as RaTG13, was identified in 2013 in horseshoe bats in Yunnan Province, China.
Research shows that both viruses are about 96 percent identical. Evolutionarily, that 4 percent difference is a genetic chase; The difference between the two viruses is less in humans and in humans.
What makes the SARS-CoV-2 virus – and none of its yet-to-be-discovered relatives – dangerous to humans is that its spike protein attaches to ACE-2 receptors, which are present in cells in the lower respiratory tract. Those cells become infected, spreading the virus and causing COVID-19 disease that has killed more than 140,000 people in the United States so far.
It is unlikely that researchers will ever identify an index case, the very first person infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus by a bat, probably sometime in November 2019. But more research is likely to be uncovered in bats populations around the world. Bonnie said that the current virus has some close relatives.
He said, “We are never going to detect the first case, but it is likely to be with a better sample. We will find bat linings that were probably roaming bats in 2010 or 2015, but the current SARS – 2 were similar to viruses. ” . “The more sampling we do, the more likely it is that we will find a more recent BAT virus.”
Researchers called for an international surveillance network, which could contract new people worldwide and into humans. Previous research was limited to a few scientists studying certain bait populations, with surveillance Bonnie said is insufficient to fully capture the full number of potentially harmful pathogens that can spread on humans.
“Of course it is a monumental task to take samples of thousands of bats and mark all their viruses,” Bonnie said. “When you are trying to catch something that is emerging from animal populations to human populations, you need to monitor both sides.”
“It has to be coordinated internationally. It cannot be an effort, ”he said.