Pangolins Might not be the Intermediary Host of the Novel Coronavirus

Getting to the root cause of the novel coronavirus is a mystery that researchers are trying to solve while they are also fighting the pandemic. Unfortunately, due to the quickly changing situation, there are chances that some suspects who have no guilt will be thrown the blame.

Right now, the generally accepted theory is as follows: COVID-19 went from a currently unknown animal host in its trip from bats all the way to humans. So far, the endangered pangolins have been viewed as a candidate for this halfway host, but a thorough analysis of their genome by a team led by genetic scientist Ping Liu, affiliated with the Guangdong Academy of Sciences, has found evidence that this is not the case after all.

COVID-19 is part of the Betacoronvirus genus of the coronavirus family. This particular category of coronaviruses mainly infects mammals. New research does point out that pangolins are a natural host for coronavirus.

The scientists have discovered nearly a full genome of the coronaviruses located in two ill Malayan pangolins (Manis javanica). The genome discovered inside these endangered mammals pangolin-CoV-2020. The final sequence of the genome had a total of 29,521 base pairs, while the dreaded SARS-CoV-2 has slightly more odd pairs, about 30,000.

The genome resulted showed a sequence identical in the proportion of 90.32 percent to SARS-CoV-2 and a similar 90.24 percent likeness with the Rhinolophus affinis coronavirus BatCoV-RaTG13, which affects bats. This is currently the closest relative we know of to SARS-CoV-2. The two have a genomic match of 96.18 percent.

Although the similarities are striking, they are not enough to get the whole picture. The genetic instructions that code the protein spike, an important feature of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, has been found more alike when comparing the bat and human coronavirus than between the bat and pangolin coronavirus.

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