When the first case of the novel coronovirus was first confirmed, it was reported that the man got exposed in a free market in Wuhan that sold all types of different animal meats, but it didn’t specify which animal. So where exactly did the virus originate?
According to previous reports, a type of snake may be the original source of the Wuhan coronavirus. However, other health and infectious disease experts are mostly looking at bats as the ultimate culprit.
“When you look at the genetic sequence of the virus, and you match it up with every known coronavirus, the closest relatives are from bats,” Dr. Peter Daszak, president of environmental non-profit EcoHealth Alliance, said.
According to a study released by the Lancet medical journal, Guizhen Wu of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention also said that the data they have so far is consistent with the claim that the virus originally came from bats.
For the longest time, these animals have also been seen as the biological super villain. This is because the winged mammal itself has been the source of several other different types of viruses, including Hendra, Nipah and Marburg, all of which have caused viral outbreaks in Australia, Malaysia, Uganda and Bangladesh. In fact, some studies even point fingers to bats when it comes to the actual origin of the ebola virus, rabies, MERS and SARS, the latter two of which are actually related to the current coronavirus since they come from the same family of viruses.
“The fact this new coronavirus has been linked to bats comes as no surprise to virologists working on bat-borne viruses. Bats are recognized as important reservoirs for emerging and re-emerging viruses with zoonotic potential,” Dr. Stathis Giotis, a virologist at the Department of Infectious Disease at Imperial College in London, said.
“Key antiviral immunity components are conserved in bats, but some genes that activate inflammation or specialized-antiviral defense mechanisms are either missing or have altered function,” Dr. Giotis added.