New coronaviruses: Chinese researchers find a batch of new coronaviruses in bats!

China | 13th June 2021 | Virtual Wire

Amid renewed calls to probe into the origins of COVID-19, Chinese researchers said they had found a batch of new coronaviruses in bats.

The newly found viruses in the bats include one that may be the second-closest yet (genetically) to the COVID-19 virus.

In a report published in the journal Cell, the Chinese researchers from Shandong University said, "In total, we assembled 24 novel coronavirus genomes from different bat species, including four SARS-CoV-2 like coronaviruses."

The samples were collected from small, forest-dwelling bats between May 2019 and November 2020. The researchers say that they tested urine and feces as well as taking swabs from the bats' mouths.

According to the Chinese researchers, one of the viruses was very similar, genetically to the

The SARS-CoV-2 virus that's causing the ongoing pandemic. "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.

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