Scientists say Thailand bats could spread similar coronaviruses

Scientists say bats in Thailand could spread other coronaviruses related to Sars-CoV-2, or Covid-19, joining what is thought to be many other bats doing the same thing across Asia. The revelation comes after scientists found bats at a wildlife sanctuary in eastern Thailand to feature a virus that closely matches that of the virus that causes Covid-19.

The team that discovered the bats featuring the virus in Thailand is led by Lin-Fa Wang of Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore. The virus found is named RacCS203, and is over 91% similar to the Covid-19 virus in terms of genomes.
It is also closely related to another coronavirus, RmYN02, which is found in bats in Yunnan, China as its genomes display a 93.6% match to Covid-19.
“We need to do more surveillance in animals. In order to find the true origin, the surveillance work needs to go beyond the border of China.”
One big concern is the ability of such coronaviruses to move between different mammals as scientists still attribute the outbreak of Covid-19 to the virus being transferred from bats to a secondary host and then to humans. But the bats in Thailand at the wildlife sanctuary are insect-eating, which workers at the sanctuary have told visitors to not be concerned about the flying creatures.
However, insect-eating bats can spread deadly illnesses and according to a New York Times article, a virologist says horseshoe bats, may be to blame for the current Covid-19 virus. Horseshoe bats are, indeed, found in Thailand caves, and are also insect eaters.
The discovery of the possible connection between horseshoe bats and the coronavirus linked to Covid-19 prompted Dr. Supaporn Watcharaprueksadee, the deputy chief of the Center for Emerging Infectious Disease of Thailand and a specialist in bat-borne viruses, to look into whether bats in Thailand, may share a similar virus.

Infectious diseases such as SARS, MERS, Hendra, Ebola and Nipah, are thought to have emerged from bats, making research into Asian bats all the more necessary.


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Ann Carter

Ann Carter is an award-winning journalist from the United States with over 12 years experience in print and broadcast news. Her work has been featured in America, China and Thailand as she has worked internationally at major news stations as a writer and producer. Carter graduated from the Walter Williams Missouri School of Journalism in the USA.

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