The Chinese researchers have recently found a new batch of coronaviruses in bats. According to the Chinese researchers, one of them namely, Rhinolophus pusillus virus would genetically be the second-closest to the Covid-19 virus till now.
The discoveries in a single, small region of Yunnan province in China indicates how many coronaviruses can exist in bats and how many have the potential to spread to people and a wide range of domestic and wild animals, including dogs, cattle, chickens, cats, pigs and mice.
In early 2020, a novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, was identified as the causative agent of a pneumonia outbreak in Wuhan, China, which eventually turned into a global pandemic, killing countless number of people.
The researchers had collected 283 fecal samples, 109 oral swabs and 19 urine samples from small, forest-dwelling bats in a tropical botanical garden and adjacent areas in a county in Yunnan province between May 2019 and November 2020.
The Chinese researchers from Shandong University said, ‘In total, we have assembled 24 novel coronavirus genomes from different bat species, including four SARS-CoV-2 like coronaviruses.’
The Chinese researchers further said that one of the viruses was very similar, genetically to the SARS-CoV-2 virus which is causing the ongoing pandemic.