Study uncovers 142 bat coronaviruses in China, but none closely linked to pandemic: SCMP

A Chinese study has uncovered 142 bat coronaviruses related to the one that caused the SARS outbreak nearly two decades ago, but none closely linked to the virus that caused COVID-19, the South China Morning Post has reported.

In a paper uploaded on the preprint server Research Square on Monday, researchers from the Institute of Pathogen Biology in Beijing revealed that they had collected and tested samples from more than 4,700 bats in regions across China since January 2020, adding to the thousands tested since 2016.

The latest research on bats, believed to be the species of origin of the virus, focused on samples collected from more than 13,000 bats of 56 species across 14 provinces since 2016.

Scientists suggest that viruses considered closest to SARS-CoV-2 are “extremely rare” in bats in China.

“This is the first bit of new sampling that I’ve seen from a well-known group of Chinese scientists on bat SARS-related coronavirus in China since the pandemic,” the newspaper quoted disease ecologist Peter Daszak as saying. Daszak was part of a World Health Organization-led study in China earlier this year.

Leo Poon Lit-man of the University of Hong Kong called the work an important step towards helping researchers narrow down the regions and species that might harbor closer viruses.

Source(s): Xinhua News Agency