June 05, 2020 12:02 PM
One of these viruses shares 96.2 percent of its rna sequence with the covid-19 coronavirus. Sars-cov-2 is thought to have originated from a bat coronavirus decades ago and passed on to another species before infecting people. The study was published online on bioRxiv and its data, methods and results have not yet been verified. It is therefore a preliminary report.
Population density and herds
According to the authors of the study, some factors may explain why bats in the two regions of China host many coronaviruses, very different from each other and evolutionarily ancient. The south-western area of the country constituted a refuge for many mammals during the recent glacial period. The long-term presence of bats could explain the diversity of coronaviruses that infect them.
The two regions are also characterized by a large population density, many farms and a subtropical to tropical climate. According to the authors, it would be necessary to monitor the spread of coronaviruses, extending the examination also to neighboring regions in Vietnam, Laos and Burma.
The world must change its approach: instead of reacting to pandemics it should try to identify dangerous coronaviruses before they emerge, says Peter Daszak, president of the EcoHealth alliance and co-author of the study. Many other viruses closely related to Sars-cov-2 are just waiting to be detected in wildlife and studied, says Daszak. “But of course, if history repeats itself, when we have found all the rest of the clade (biological group) of Sars-2, something else will emerge.”