New Delhi: Chinese researchers on Saturday (June 14) said that they had found a batch of new coronavirus which may be genetically the closest to the COVID-19 virus. The discovery comes at a time when there is a call to investigate the origins of the COVID-19 virus.
The research team said that they found multiple coronaviruses with some of them having the capability to jump from animals to humans.
“In total, we assembled 24 novel coronavirus genomes from different bat species, including four SARS-CoV-2 like coronaviruses,” said the researchers from the Shandong University in a report that was published in the scientific journal Cell.
Samples were taken from forest-dwelling bats between May 2019 to November 2020.
The researchers analysed the urine samples, the feces samples, and the swab taken from the bats’ mouths.
In the report, they added that one of the coronaviruses was very similar to SARS-CoV-2.
“It would be the closest strain to SARS-CoV-2 except for genetic differences on the spike protein, the knob-like structure that the virus uses when attaching to cells,” they said.
“Together with the SARS-CoV-2 related virus collected from Thailand in June 2020, these results clearly demonstrate that viruses closely related to SARS-CoV-2 continue to circulate in bat populations, and in some regions might occur at a relatively high frequency,” the report added.
Researchers across the world have been recently calling for an independent and transparent investigation into the origins of the COVID-19.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) is currently probing four theories over the origin of the pandemic out of which one states that the virus had leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology situated near the Seafood Market which is believed to be the origin point of COVID-19.
The G-7 leaders on Sunday discussed the theory of the Wuhan Lab Leak with the UK Foreign Secretary asking China to cooperate in the investigation.