Pangolins can be intermediate hosts of the coronavirus?

Scientists around the world are looking for the animal from which the coronavirus 2019-nCoV transferred to the person. As genome 2019-nCoV almost 80% similar to the genome of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), in search of the natural host of the virus the eyes of scientists was drawn to bats. The fact that they were carriers of SARS, so the researchers believe that the coronavirus them flying “hands” of the matter. But in the beginning of the epidemic , the Chinese scientists said that natural host 2019-nCoV are snakes, but in the scientific community the results of the study questioned. Meanwhile, today, scientists do not exclude that the intermediate host of the coronavirus are eating ants mammals — pangolins.

Pangolins and bats are carriers of the coronavirus?

Today, pangolins are on the brink of extinction. The reason for this is the Chinese food and medical interests — that of pangolins sell in the Chinese markets, and then use their meat for cooking and medicines. But it is not limited to China, writes The New York Times, the market of pangolins is so great that they are the most common mammals on the planet. Similar to the armadillos and anteaters, pangolins live in Equatorial and southern Africa and South-East Asia.

According to researchers, the original host of the virus are considered to be bat. But if pangolins are involved in the transmission of the disease, it is likely that they are the intermediate hosts. This situation, incidentally, was observed during the outbreak of middle East respiratory syndrome MERS — then as an intermediate host were made by the camels, but the original masters were again bats. However, to be confident, how it happened 2019-nCoV, researchers will need to know exactly what animals were present on the market in Wuhan.

Recall that the virus was discovered in people who had visited the seafood market in Wuhan. However, some of the first cases of infection were observed in people who have never visited the market. According to epidemiologists, this may indicate that the first jump from animals to humans may have occurred not on the market. People can catch this disease from animals elsewhere or previously. The situation is complicated by the fact that animals on the market in Wuhan is quickly disposed of, while from China it was reported that tissue samples of the animals showed a negative result for the presence of virus in the body.

Why pangolins?

Chinese scientists paid attention to the pangolin almost immediately. Information about the relationship of these mammals from 2019-nCoV appeared in the report that preceded the epidemic. In October, Chinese researchers published a reportwhich documented that these lizards can learn from different coronaviruses. Analysis of genetic studies of pangolins in the future appeared in public databases, where they can be analyzed. And in early February, the Chinese news Agency Xinhua reported that scientists from South China agricultural University found the virus in the pangolins, which is 99% meets the new coronavirus.