Coronavirus: Experts say studying bats could help predict danger spots

The source of the coronavirus has been identified as most likely originating in bats. Scientist believe a better defence of the virus can be developed.

Sam Edwards High Level Alberta

The source of the deadly Wuhan coronavirus has been identified as most likely originating in bats. Scientists believe that they can develop better defence against the infection by closely observing the animals.

Scientists can also better predict where future outbreaks will occur by analyzing the DNA of the animal and the virus.

The Daily Mail reported that a faster and less expensive test than the one currently used has been created by researchers. A lung sample is required for the current test and the host’s DNA is scanned.

Data about the virus’s evolution can go through a computer which predicts the most likely hotspots for the virus to surface.

Nine patients in Wuhan had samples taken from their lungs which revealed that the genetics of coronavirus are different from the SARS virus.

It is suggested that bats have transferred the disease to a host which acted as an intermediate carrier of the virus. That host was reportedly in the Huanan seafood market in Wuhan where it was then transferred to humans.

The structures of coronavirus and SARS are similar though there are small critical differences. Research suggests that the two viruses may enter cells by using the same method.

New techniques to track the virus has been improved by US and China academics.

The coronavirus has currently caused the deaths of over 200 people and there are over 8,000 current cases. There are now 19 different countries with cases of the infection.

Dr Sterghios Moschos is an associate professor at Northumbria University who specializes in cellular and molecular sciences. He thinks that inexpensive and non-invasive testing will be available for such viruses in the future but will not be ready for the current outbreak.

“To do this non-invasively we need a way of getting the sample from the suspected or confirmed patients by not going into their lungs,” he told The Daily Mail.

“Right now we have to go deep into their lungs, because the data published in the Lancet on Friday shows that a cotton swab of the nose isn’t reliable for detecting the virus.”

“We use these techniques right now to see how the virus is evolving in the patients, practically in real time.”

He added, “In the 2014 West African Ebola outbreak the first sequence data of the virus took months to come out.”

“But for this outbreak, it’s taking just days to hours. But it’s still not cheap enough though to test everyone going through Heathrow for the virus, for example.”

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