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In Britain, a virus similar to SARS-CoV-2 was found in bats - is it dangerous to humans?

According to one version, the coronavirus was transmittedbats to humans. Earlier, I said that scientists have identified coronaviruses in bats in East Asia, which differ from SARS-CoV-2 by only a few percent. Recently, British scientists announced that they had found a coronavirus, almost identical to SARS-CoV-2, in local bats called horseshoe bats. By the way, this is the first case in history when the coronavirus that causes SARS was detected in bats in England. Up to this point, such viruses were found mainly in East Asia and Eastern Europe. Does this mean that bats could infect a person with coronavirus not in China and not in Asia at all, but, for example, in Britain or another country in Western Europe? Could the detected virus threaten humanity in the same way as SARS-CoV-2? These questions were partially answered by the authors of the study.

British scientists have discovered a virus similar to SARS-CoV-2 in local horseshoe bats

The new coronavirus from Britain is not dangerous to people?

A group of scientists from several Britishuniversities collected fecal samples from more than fifty bats in different parts of England. As a result of sequencing the genome of one of the detected viruses, it turned out that it is a close relative of SARS-CoV-2. The researchers gave it the name “RhGB01”.

The new virus belongs to the subgroup of the so-calledsarbekoviruses. It also includes SARS-CoV-2, which caused the current pandemic, as well as the SARS-CoV virus, which in 2003 became the culprit for the spread of SARS.

According to the authors of the work, most likelyhorseshoe bats have been carriers of sarbekoviruses for a very long time, perhaps thousands of years. It was discovered only now only because this is the first such study. Also, the authors of the article, which was published in the publication Nature, argue that the Virus is unlikely to pose a direct threat to humans, even if it mutates on its own.

Sequencing showed that the coronavirus detected in horseshoe bats belongs to sarbecoviruses that cause SARS similar to SARS-CoV-2

Scientists' confidence in the safety of the discoveredcoronavirus is due to the fact that its receptor binding domain, that is, the part of the virus responsible for infecting a cell, is unable to infect a human cell.

However, the situation in which RhGB01 can bedangerous to people, according to the authors of the work, it still exists. It will occur if a person betrays the SARS-CoV-2 virus to a bat infected with RhGB01. Then a new virus can interbreed with it, as a result of which, theoretically, a new dangerous coronavirus could arise.

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Therefore, everyone who deals with bats, toFor example, cavers should use personal protective equipment when in contact with them or in their habitats. Moreover, this should be a strict rule not only in Britain, but throughout the world. After all, it is not known where else they can be infected with a coronavirus similar to SARS-CoV-2.

“Any bat that carriessarbecovirus acts as a melting pot for viral mutation. Therefore, if she becomes infected with SARS-CoV-2, a new virus may emerge that can infect humans, ”the study authors say.

Thus, the study expands the geolocation of these types of viruses, as well as the species range. Coronaviruses similar to SARS-CoV-2 are found in about a hundred species of horseshoe bats.

A virus similar to SARS-CoV-2 can be carried not only by bats, but also by other animals

What other animals carry the coronavirus

According to the authors of the work, carriersnot only bats are coronavirus, but also many other mammals. The results of the work show that the possibilities of the natural spread of coronaviruses through intermediate hosts were previously underestimated by scientists.

“Our results highlight the importance of testinggenotype of coronaviruses in bat populations around the world. This raises the question of what other animals are carriers of these viruses ”- say the authors of the study.

Hence it follows that before humanity standsthe potential threat of the emergence of other dangerous coronaviruses as a result of accidental infection of an animal carrier of sarbekovirus with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. And now you can't even say which animal can be potentially dangerous. However, don't panic. Earlier, I said that bats alone can infect hundreds of thousands of people with coronavirus every year. However, this does not cause such a pandemic as the current one, which I mentioned earlier.