Origin: Very Close Relatives Of SARS-CoV-2 Identified In Laotian Bats

The pandemic SARS-CoV-2 virus likely originated from bats in Southeast Asia. There are over 450 million people sharing the region with the bats that live in limestone caves in countries like Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos. One of the predominant genera of bats in the region is the Rhinolophus (horseshoe bat). Bat species falling in this genus contain an ACE2 receptor that closely resembles that of humans. The ACE2 is so similar, in fact, that many of the coronaviruses in these bats have the potential to infect humans as well.

The exact origins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus are shrouded in mystery and some controversy. Recent estimates of the number of people infected by coronaviruses of horseshoe bat origin in Southeast Asia are between 400,000 and two million. A recent study from the Pasteur Institute, Temmam et al., investigates viruses endemic to the bats of this region.

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© William A. Haseltine, PhD. All Rights Reserved.