For the first time outside of China, scientists have discovered two versions of the Coronavirus that are very similar to the SARS-CoV-2 strain of the virus that causes COVID-19.
According to Erm News, scientists have found the two viruses in frozen bats and bat droppings that have been stored for years in Cambodian and Japanese laboratories.
This discovery comes in parallel with scientists' efforts to search for the origin of the virus that caused panic around the world, and it is possible that SARS-CoV-2 originated in horseshoe bats, but some evidence indicates that it may have passed through another animal before it was It infects humans.
For her part, Alice Latin, an evolutionary biologist, said: “To confirm the relationship of the discovered virus to the emerging corona virus, scientists have enlarged a small portion of the virus’s genome consisting of 324 base pairs, and found that they are similar to the known strains of the Coronavirus family.”
So far, researchers have sequenced about 70% of the genome, and the rest is still being analyzed. Including the genes, which contain the spiky protein that allows the virus to enter cells.
Notably, RaTG13 is the closest known analogue to SARS-CoV-2 to date. It shares 96% of its characteristics, and if the newly discovered virus is at least 97% similar to SAR-CoV-2, it will replace RaTG13 as the closest known relative.
Also, if the strains are 99% similar, the newly discovered virus may be a direct precursor to the emerging corona virus.
It is not known whether the virus that was found in Cambodia can infect human cells. However, detection of novel coronaviruses in horseshoe bats can provide hints about how SARS-CoV-2 is transmitted to humans. It is also considered an important thing that helps predict future epidemics.