Scientists from Australia and China have found four genomes of the coronavirus related to SARS-CoV-2 in the biomaterial of bats living in one of the regions of the Chinese province of Yunnan. This is stated in a study published on the bioRxiv resource.
The researchers examined 411 samples taken from 23 animal species from May 2019 to November 2020. “From this data, we extracted 24 full-length coronavirus genomes, including four related to the novel SARS-CoV-2 and three genomes related to SARS-CoV,” the publication said.
It is noted that one of these viruses, RpYN06, in its genome structure 94.5 percent coincides with SARS-CoV-2. Three more related SARS-CoV-2 coronaviruses are almost identical to viruses that were previously identified in pangolins from China's Guangxi province.
According to scientists, these data indicate the diversity of viruses in bats on a local scale, as well as the fact that wild animals are carriers of related SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV viruses in the vast territory of Southeast Asia and southern China.
At the same time, it is emphasized that the evolutionary roots of SARS-CoV-2 have not yet been finally established, despite the discovery of a number of related coronaviruses.
In February, it was reported that experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) began to study the role of ferrets badgers and rabbits in the spread of coronavirus in a market in Wuhan, China.