Novel coronavirus discovered in bats, says UK study

WION Web Team
New Delhi Published: Jul 21, 2021, 12:07 PM(IST)

Coronavirus through bats Photograph:( Reuters )

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As a part of the study, UEA researchers collected faecal samples from more than 50 lesser horseshoe bats in Somerset, Gloucestershire, and Wales. The samples were then sent for viral analysis at Public Health England

A new research by the scientists of the University of East Anglia, ZSL (Zoological Society of London), and Public Health England (PHE) has revealed that a coronavirus related to the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans has been found in horseshoe bats.

However, there is no evidence that this virus has been transmitted to humans, or that it could in the future. 

As a part of the study, UEA researchers collected faecal samples from more than 50 lesser horseshoe bats in Somerset, Gloucestershire, and Wales. The samples were then sent for viral analysis at Public Health England.

Through genome sequencing, ‘RhGB01’, a novel coronavirus was found in one of the bat samples.

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As per the research team, these bats will almost certainly have harboured the virus for a very long time. And it has been found now because this is the first time that they have been tested. 

Prof Diana Bell, an expert in emerging zoonotic diseases from UEA’s School of Biological Sciences, was quoted by Science Tech daily saying, "Similar viruses have been found in other horseshoe bat species in China, South East Asia, and Eastern Europe. Our research extends both the geographic and species ranges of these types of viruses and suggests their more widespread presence across more than 90 species of horseshoe bats".

“These bats will almost certainly have harboured this virus for a very long time – probably many thousands of years. We didn’t know about it before because this is the first time that such tests have been carried out in UK bats We already know that there are different coronaviruses in many other mammal species too". 

A further analysis compared the virus with those found in other horseshoe bat species in China, South East Asia and Europe. It was then concluded that its closest relative was discovered in a Blasius’s bat from Bulgaria in 2008.

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