Pangolins may be intermediate hosts of novel coronavirus: Researchers
Updated 15:48, 07-Feb-2020
By Guo Meiping
A group of researchers from South China Agricultural University and Lingnan Guangdong Laboratory of Modern Agriculture announced on Friday that they have made a breakthrough in tracing potential intermediate hosts of the novel coronavirus.
After analyzing over 1,000 metagenome samples, the researchers identified pangolins as a potential intermediate host of the virus. Through molecular biological detection, the researchers found out that the positive rate of the β coronavirus in pangolins is 70 percent.
Researchers then conducted viral isolation and identification. The results of the analysis of genome of the virus showed that the sequences of the isolated virus strains were 99 percent similar to those currently infecting humans.
Professor Shen Yongyi, one of the researchers from South China Agricultural University, said in a press conference on Friday that pangolins might not be the only potential intermediate host of the virus.
"Take SARS as an example, besides civets, other small carnivores might also amplify the spread of the virus," Shen said.
The university said that the research is vital for the prevention and control of the current outbreak of the novel coronavirus pneumonia.
"Based on the severe condition of epidemic prevention and control, we decided to release our research results as soon as possible," Liu Yahong, president of South China Agricultural University and executive deputy director of Lingnan Guangdong Laboratory of Modern Agriculture, said during the press conference.
Shen called on the public to stay away from wild animals and hopes their research could provide hints to other researchers to discover more potential hosts of the virus.