Bats could transmit new coronaviruses more frequently than previously thought: study

2021-09-30 07:25:19Xinhua Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

The transmission of new coronaviruses from animals to humans may be more common in Southeast Asia than previously thought, German local media has reported.

"Evidence suggests that some bat SARS-related coronaviruses (SARSr-CoVs) could infect people directly, and that their spillover is more frequent than previously recognized," says a study led by Cecilia Sanchez of the EcoHealth Alliance.

By matching data on bat distribution with population density, and possible overlap zones of human and animal habitats and activities, researchers determined that there could be around 400,000 infections with SARS-related bat coronaviruses in Southeast Asia every year.

The research team supplemented data from emerging hotspots for potentially infectious animal-human contact with the results of random antibody tests conducted on human blood samples collected before the outbreak of the current COVID-19 pandemic.

In southern China and Southeast Asia alone, there were 23 bat species that were carriers of coronaviruses associated with SARS. Their combined range covered around 4.5 million square kilometers, home to approximately 478 million people.

The team of researchers also mapped places where people in certain regions might have had previous contact with SARS-related coronaviruses from bats. "These data on the geography and scale of spillover can be used to target surveillance and prevention programs for potential future bat-CoV emergence," the study says. 

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