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Pangolins (anteaters) may have spread coronavirus to humans: Chinese scientists

Saturday, February 8, 2020 • Tamil Comments

The novel coronavirus that has infected at least 34000 people and killed more than 720 people across the world, is believed to have originated in bats, but researchers have suggested that there could have been an "intermediate host" in the transmission to humans.

Based on genettic analysis, it was determined that the strain of the coronavirus that has rapidly been spreadng among humans was 96% identical to that found in bats. But according to scientists, there is apparently an intermediary. After testing more than 1,000 samples from wild animals, scientists have found the genome sequences of viruses found on pangolins (anteaters) to be 99% identical to those on coronavirus patients, a Chinese news agency reported.

An evolutionary virologist reportedly suggested, "This is an extremely interesting observation. Although we need to see more details, it does make sense as there are now some other data emerging that pangolins carry viruses that are closely related to 2019-nCoV."

However, some experts have advised caution as this is not authentic scientific evidence. "Investigations into animal reservoirs are extremely important, but results must be then be published for international scrutiny. Simply reporting detection of viral RNA with sequence similarity of 99+ percent is not sufficient," a researcher from the University of Cambridge reportedly stated.

The novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), that is originally believed to have originated from the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, affects the respiratory tract of the infected person. Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

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