By FnF Correspondent | PUBLISHED: 14, Jun 2021, 18:08 pm IST | UPDATED: 15, Jun 2021, 11:52 am IST
New Delhi: The Chinese researchers said they had found a batch of new coronaviruses in bats, including one that may be the second-closest yet (genetically) to the Covid-19 virus.
The researchers said that their discoveries in southwestern China show just how many coronaviruses are there in bats and how many have the potential to spread to people, CNN reported.
In a report published in the journal Cell, the researchers from the University of Shandong said: “In total, we assembled 24 novel coronavirus genomes from different bat species, including four SARS-CoV-2 like coronaviruses.”
The researchers, who collected samples from small, forest-dwelling bats between May 2019 and November 2020, said that they tested urine and feces as well as taking swabs from the bats' mouths.
They added that one was very similar, genetically to the SARS-CoV-2 virus that's causing the ongoing pandemic.
“It would be the closest strain to SARS-CoV-2 except for genetic differences on the spike protein, the knob-like structure that the virus uses when attaching to cells,” as per the researchers.
"Together with the SARS-CoV-2 related virus collected from Thailand in June 2020, these results clearly demonstrate that viruses closely related to SARS-CoV-2 continue to circulate in bat populations, and in some regions might occur at a relatively high frequency,” they wrote.