The virus first identified in Wuhan, China, is a known as coronavirus. SARS-CoV-2 is a coronavirus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that target and affect mammals’ respiratory systems. There are four main ranks, or genera, of coronavirus: alpha, beta, delta, and gamma.
When humans do contract a coronavirus, it typically happens due to contact with an infected animal. Some of the most common carriers are bats, though they do not typically transmit coronaviruses directly to humans.
The rumours on social media suggest that the outbreak was human-made. Some say the coronavirus leaked from a Chinese lab studying coronaviruses. Others suggest the virus was engineered to spread among humans. But there is no evidence to prove this rumours.
In early January 2020, Chinese scientists sequenced the entire genome for SARS-CoV-2and published it online. Researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China compared its genome to a library of viruses — and found 96% match with coronavirus samples taken from horseshoe bats from Yunnan.
But the 4 % is difference is actually a wide distance in the evolutionary time. It could even be decades, says Dr. Robert F. Garry, professor of microbiology and immunology at Tulane University School of Medicine. The extra 4% suggests the SARS-CoV-2 may not have evolved from bats alone, but may include viral material from another animal. In that case, the virus would have continued to evolve through natural selection in that animal. Moreover, that other animal may have acted as an “intermediate host,” ultimately transmitting the virus to humans.
The previous outbreaks of SARS and MERS, it jumped to humans from an animal. Researchers have found evidence it may have originated from bats, but a second animal like a snake or a type of anteater called a pangolin may have transmitted it to humans.
Did coronavirus come from pangolins?
According to Chinese media, researchers at South China Agricultural University have analyzed over 1,000 metagenome samples of wild animals to find pangolins, a type of anteater, are the most likely intermediate host of thecoronavirus( COVID-19).
Shen Yongyi, a professor with the university and member of the research team, told the Xinhua news service that although previous research found the new coronavirus(COVID) originated in bats, the animals hibernate in winter, making it unlikely that they caused the current outbreak.
“The evidence for the involvement of pangolins in the virus has not been published, said Professor James Wood, PhD, Head of Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Cambridge . “This is not scientific evidence.
Bats may be the original source of the virus:
A study published Trusted Source Jan. 30, in The Lancet, finds strong evidence that bats are where the infection actually originated.
According to study authors, the infection could still have been passed to humans through an intermediary animal. A previous study theorized that it went through snakes before being passed on to humans.