Seven new coronaviruses have been discovered in bats, according to reports. The new strains of the virus were reportedly found in Gabon, Africa, but it is not clear whether they can spread to humans.
According to NewScientist, experts from the Franceville International Medical Research Center recently tested more than a thousand bats living in caves across the country and found that 18 of them had coronavirus.
The research found that five of the new seven coronaviruses are linked to previous strains that were linked to humans.
These include the human coronavirus 229E that has been circulating among humans since the 1960s, which usually causes only mild cold symptoms. This has led to the scientists speculating that the new coronaviruses could spread to humans, causing another pandemic, but added further research would need to be done first.
Genetic sequencing also showed that seven of these coronaviruses, all of which have been found in bats that eat insects, have been completely unknown so far. Speculation continues as to where this particular coronavirus, which has brought the world to a standstill, originated from.
The COVID-19 genome is thought to have come from bats captured from caves in Yunnan. The caves are 1,000 miles away from Wuhan, the Chinese city which is now infamous for having been the epicentre of the global coronavirus pandemic.
Scientists say it is highly likely that Covid-19 first came from bats, but first passed through an intermediary animal before jumping to humans. It is widely believed that the flu-like virus first began infecting humans in late 2019 after being transmitted from an animal at the Huanan seafood market.
Scientists are uncertain about several aspects of the origin of Covid-19, with fresh doubts also arising last week following research by Cao Bin, a doctor at the Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital, which found that 13 of the first 41 diagnosed patients had not had any contact with the market.
However, responding to the claims, the Chinese Embassy has described speculation around the lab’s activities as “hasty and reckless allegations”.
In a letter also published in the Mail on Sunday, it says: “Hasty and reckless allegations, such as naming China as the origin in an attempt to shift the blame before any scientific conclusion, is irresponsible and will definitely do harm to international co-operation at this critical time.”
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