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Highlights:

  • Researchers are studying the feces of bats to detect the severity of the virus which they are carrying
  • Mutation of Sarbecovirus found in the horseshoe bat will affect human beings if they come in contact

For the first time ever, a Sarbecovirus (SARS-related coronavirus) has been detected in a horseshoe bat and it is the first in the UK. Coronavirus which has caused COVID-19 in people is now reported that a link is to be found in UK horseshoe bats.

However, according to researchers from the University of East Anglia (UEA), the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), and Public Health England (PHE), until the virus mutates any further, there is no indication that it has been transferred to people or will be in the future.

Researchers from the UEA gathered excrement samples from more than 50 lesser horseshoe bats in Somerset, Gloucestershire, and Wales and sent them to the PHE for virus investigation.

A new coronavirus, dubbed ‘RhGB01,’ was discovered in one of the bat samples after genome sequencing. It is found that RhGB01 belongs to the Sarbecoviruses subgroup of coronaviruses, which includes SARS-CoV-2 (the current pandemic’s cause) and SARS-CoV-1 (responsible for the initial 2003 SARS outbreak in humans).

They also pointed out that these bats had been very definitely been carrying the virus for a long time, that is more than thousands of years. It is now discovered because this is the first time they’ve been tested. Further study revealed that RhGB01’s closest cousin was identified in a Bulgarian Blasius’s bat in 2008.

According to the researchers, it is stated that the receptor-binding domain (RBD) is the portion of the virus that binds to host cells to infect them. It is not compatible with infecting human cells, therefore RhGB01 is unlikely to pose a direct risk to people.

However, if it mutates which might happen if a human infected with COVID-19 passes the virus onto an infected bat. Then anyone who comes into touch with bats or their droppings could get sick.

The professor from UEA’s School of Biological Sciences said, “Horseshoe bats are found across Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia and the bats we tested lie at the western extreme of their range”.

Bell also stated that various coronaviruses can be found in a variety of other animal species. However, horseshoe bats have been the subject of study into the origins of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans.

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