A new virus, similar to the coronavirus, has been discovered in China. This was discovered by researchers from Shandong First Medical University and the Shandong Academy of Medical Sciences in Taian. In fact, they identified a new viral strain in a bat present in the region, similar to Sars-CoV-2 at 94.5 percent. The new virus, which scientists have called RpYN06, shares much of the predicted genetic makeup. Their fear is that a new species jump may occur from one of the many variants found in animals like this one. The researchers looked at 411 samples collected from 23 bat species found in China’s Yunnan Province between 2019 and 2020.
Well, they found four Sars-CoV-2 related viruses. In addition to the one called RpYN06, there are three that have an almost identical sequence to Sars-CoV-2. The team, led by Weifeng Shi, explained that these coronavirus “relatives” circulate in wild species across a large area of Southeast Asia and southern China.
RPYN06, NEW VIRUS ALMOST EQUAL TO SARS-COV-2
This study not only highlights the diversity of bat viruses, but makes even more evident the need for surveillance to cover a wide range of wild animals living in this region, so as to ward off the continuous spills of viruses from animals to humans. This study is not surprising, as in February 2021 a group of researchers from the University of Singapore had discovered RacCS203, another “relative” virus of the coronavirus, detecting it in the blood of five Thai bats.
But in that case, the genetic similarity was slightly lower, ie equal to 91.5%. However, that virus was in turn related to another coronavirus, called RmYN02, which instead resembles 93.6% of the Sars-CoV-2 genome and was found in a species of bat also widespread in Yunnan. These are, therefore, other clues as to how bats are involved in the Covid-19 pandemic, but also elements that further highlight the danger of a new species jump.
Photo credit for illustration: Per Jensen / Flickr