A famous Chinese virologist has said that other coronaviruses are present in bats and the deadly illnesses already have the potential to move over to humans.
The breakthrough discovery that the new disease was similar to SARS was made by Dr Shi Zhengli, from the city of Wuhan in China – where the Covid-19 outbreak originated.
The Chinese scientist at the Wuhan Institute of Virology said these viruses are likely to spread in nature throughout South Asia, including close relatives of Sars-CoV-2, which causes Covid-19.
“We should not only search for them in China, but also in South Asian countries,” Dr. Zhengli said.
At a webinar hosted by the French medical and veterinary academies, she made her remarks, The Guardian reports.
The group of Dr. Zhengli has so far failed to detect the virus in farm animals or wildlife that have been sampled around Wuhan, the provincial capital of Hubei.
While it is suspected that Sars-CoV-2 originated in bats, Dr. Zhengli, who was referred to as “Bat Woman” because of her studies on the disease in the species, said that it was most likely transmitted from an intermediate host that has yet to be identified to humans.
The main “staging post” was thought to have been provided by Pangolins, a scaly mammal that looks like an anteater.
Dr. Zhengli said that Sars-CoV-2 may have been in it for a very long time,” whatever species was the intermediary host.
Prof. Edward Holmes, a virologist at the University of Sydney, accepted that the virus may have been in an intermediate host for a long time before it was identified, and maybe even in humans for a few months.
“Holmes, who was not at the webinar, said It is perfectly possible that the initial cross-species transmission case did not happen in or around Wuhan itself.
“In Hubei Province, it may not even have happened, although there are obviously a huge number of possible animals to be tested to solve this.”
Dr Zhengli conducted experiments within days of the outbreak and reported that the killer bug was 96 percent similar to a virus found in horseshoe bats.
China kept back details about the rising crisis from the rest of the world for a critical seven-day duration as more Chinese began to die in Wuhan, Dr Shi Zhengli alleges.
She says she was forbidden from revealing her findings, prompting suspicions of the Chinese authorities’ huge cover-up.
Dr Zhengli has been named one of the most prominent coronavirus specialists with 16 years of experience in virology.
In its initial stages, she sequenced the disease, finding it to be similar to the deadly SARS virus that battered China in the early 2000s.