A new scientific study that took samples from five coronavirus victims found that the strain is “96% identical at the whole genome level to a bat coronavirus.”
Following the viral spread of videos out of China and other Asian countries showing people eating bat soup, the media attempted to debunk a link between the coronavirus and bat eating, partially by insisting the connection was “racist.”
This debunking campaign came despite Chinese authorities admitting that the source of the outbreak was an illegal animal market at which snakes and bats are sold in Wuhan.
The BBC reported that “bat soup is not particularly commonplace in the country” and that the connection to bats was “misinformation,” despite linking to a new study in their own article which proved the opposite.
The results of the study, titled ‘Discovery of a novel coronavirus associated with the recent pneumonia outbreak in humans and its potential bat origin’, were published on the archive website for the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.
The full abstract of the study reads as follows;
Since the SARS outbreak 18 years ago, a large number of severe acute respiratory syndrome related coronaviruses (SARSr-CoV) have been discovered in their natural reservoir host, bats. Previous studies indicated that some of those bat SARSr-CoVs have the potential to infect humans.
Here we report the identification and characterization of a novel coronavirus (nCoV-2019) which caused an epidemic of acute respiratory syndrome in humans, in Wuhan, China.
The epidemic, started from December 12th, 2019, has caused 198 laboratory confirmed infections with three fatal cases by January 20th, 2020. Full-length genome sequences were obtained from five patients at the early stage of the outbreak. They are almost identical to each other and share 79.5% sequence identify to SARS-CoV.
Furthermore, it was found that nCoV-2019 is 96% identical at the whole genome level to a bat coronavirus.
The pairwise protein sequence analysis of seven conserved non-structural proteins show that this virus belongs to the species of SARSr-CoV. The nCoV-2019 virus was then isolated from the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid of a critically ill patient, which can be neutralized by sera from several patients. Importantly, we have confirmed that this novel CoV uses the same cell entry receptor, ACE2, as SARS-CoV.
Bats were also responsible for both MERS and SARS, but the media appears to be more concerned about Chinese people being upset by racist memes.
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