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Sun Sep 26, 2021, 07:22 PM

Closest known relatives of virus behind COVID-19 found in Laos

This comes from a news item in Nature. It's probably open sourced: Closest known relatives of virus behind COVID-19 found in Laos (Smriti Mallapaty, Nature News September 24, 2021.)

Subtitle: Studies of bats in China and Laos show southeast Asia is a hotspot for potentially dangerous viruses similar to SARS-CoV-2.

Scientists have found three viruses in bats in Laos that are more similar to SARS-CoV-2 than any known viruses. Researchers say that parts of their genetic code bolster claims that the virus behind COVID-19 has a natural origin — but their discovery also raises fears that there are numerous coronaviruses with the potential to infect people.

David Robertson, a virologist at the University of Glasgow, UK, calls the find “fascinating, and quite terrifying”.


The paper is in preprint and has not been peer reviewed:

The results, which are not peer reviewed, have been posted on the preprint server Research Square1. Particularly concerning is that the new viruses contain receptor binding domains that are almost identical to that of SARS-CoV-2, and can therefore infect human cells. The receptor binding domain allows SARS-CoV-2 to attach to a receptor called ACE2 on the surface of human cells to enter them.

To make the discovery, Marc Eloit, a virologist at the Pasteur Institute in Paris and his colleagues in France and Laos, took saliva, faeces and urine samples from 645 bats in caves in northern Laos. In three horseshoe (Rhinolophus) bat species, they found viruses that are each more than 95% identical to SARS-CoV-2, which they named BANAL-52, BANAL-103 and BANAL-236.

Natural origin

“When SARS-CoV-2 was first sequenced, the receptor binding domain didn’t really look like anything we’d seen before,” says Edward Holmes, a virologist at the University of Sydney in Australia. This caused some people to speculate that the virus had been created in a laboratory. But the Laos coronaviruses confirm these parts of SARS-CoV-2 exist in nature, he says...

...In an extra step in their study, Eloit and his team showed in the laboratory that the receptor binding domains of these viruses could attach to the ACE2 receptor on human cells as efficiently as some early variants of SARS-CoV-2. The researchers also cultured BANAL-236 in cells, which Eloit says they will now use to study how pathogenic the virus is in animal models.

Last year, researchers described another close relative of SARS-CoV-2, called RaTG13, which was found in bats in Yunnan5. It is 96.1% identical to SARS-CoV-2 overall and the two viruses probably shared a common ancestor 40–70 years ago6. BANAL-52 is 96.8% identical to SARS-CoV-2, says Eloit — and all three newly discovered viruses have individual sections that are more similar to sections of SARS CoV-2 than seen in any other viruses...

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Reply Closest known relatives of virus behind COVID-19 found in Laos (Original post)
NNadir Sep 2021 OP
lapfog_1 Sep 2021 #1
Walleye Sep 2021 #2
niyad Sep 2021 #3

Response to NNadir (Original post)

Sun Sep 26, 2021, 07:44 PM

1. One estimate from a virologist

is 100s of unknown Corona viruses. The good news is that the vast majority have not jumped to humans.

That said, this is not the last pandemic we will face.

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Response to NNadir (Original post)

Sun Sep 26, 2021, 08:28 PM

2. Now that is doing research. Reading stuff on Google is mental masturbation

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Response to NNadir (Original post)

Sun Sep 26, 2021, 09:29 PM

3. KNR and bookmarking for reference.

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