They find a virus very similar to that of the COVID-19 in bats of Laos

Scientists from the Pasteur Institute of Paris announced that they have discovered in Bats from Northern Laos a strain of virus very similar to that of Sars-Cov

They find a virus very similar to that of the COVID-19 in bats of Laos

Scientists from the Pasteur Institute of Paris announced that they have discovered in Bats from Northern Laos a strain of virus very similar to that of Sars-Cov? 2 that originated the Covid-19.

The French researchers, together with their peers of the Pasteur Institute of Laos and the National University of that country, carried out between the end of 2020 and early 2021 a mission in northern Laos to analyze different species of bats that live in caves Calcareous

"The initial idea was to try to identify the origin of this epidemic," explained AFP Marc Eloit, responsible for the laboratory specializing in the discovery of new pathogens at the Pasteur Institute of Paris.

After analysis of the various samples collected, and thanks to matching data, "we suspect that some insectivorous bats could house the virus."

The samples were collected in a region that is part of an immense karst relief, with calcareous geological formations, ideal for housing bat colonies, which extends from Laos to Northern Vietnam and South China.

"Laos shares that common territory with southern China, full of caverns where bats live, so we decided to explore on that side," explains Marc Eloit. What happens in that area is representative of all the ecosystem of the caves.

The sequences of the viruses found in the bats are almost identical to those of SARS-COV-2 (the scientific name of the Virus of the COVID-19) and the researchers could demonstrate that it is capable of contaminating human cells.

However, the viruses analyzed lacked what is known as "clivacy site of furina", a function present in SARS-COV-2, which activates the Spike protein.

This protein is the one that allows the virus to improve its power of penetration in human cells, and therefore, is the key to the pathogenic power of the virus that has spread throughout the planet.

Several hypotheses could explain that lost link in the newly analyzed viruses, explains Marc Eloit.

"Perhaps a non-pathogen virus circulated first among human beings before mutating," this expert suggests.

"Or perhaps a very close virus of the identified viruses has this clivacy site, and we have not found it yet."

But the most sensitive question is another: "How is it possible that the bats of bats found in the caverns were going to Wuhan?" A city that is 2,000 km further north.

Wuhan is the Chinese city and official origin of the Covid-19 pandemic. For now there is no clear answer to this question.

Be that as it may, this study "supposes a breakthrough in identifying the origin of SARS-COV-2, ELOIT estimates.

Its main conclusion would be that viruses are very close to SARS-COV-2 in bats, capable of infecting man without an intermediary animal, such as the Pangolin.

At the end of August, a group of experts to whom the World Health Organization (WHO) commissioned a report on the origin of Covid-19 warned that the investigations were at a "neutral point".

The scientists who launched the alarm signal were part of the team of 17 researchers that WHO sent China, where they had to work together with 17 Chinese researchers.

That initial research, in the month of January, led to a joint report on March 29, which did not contribute a clear response to the unknowns.

Updated Date: 22 September 2021, 19:45

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