Categories: News

Endangered Pangolins May Have Helped Spread nCoV in China, Says New Study

Aside from bats, experts are looking at pangolins as another likely source of the coronavirus.

  • A new study by the South China Agricultural University claims that pangolins are likely the source of coronavirus.
  • Samples from the animal matched 99% of those in people infected by the viral disease.

Pangolins may have helped spread the novel coronavirus in China, according to scientists. In a study conducted by South China Agricultural University, it has been discovered that the scaly anteaters may potentially be the missing link towards better understanding the viral disease.

Based on over 1,000 samples studied by experts, pangolins carried a genome sequence that was 99% similar to those who are infected by the virus, making them the most likely immediate hosts of the virus, said university president Liu Yahong.

So, pangolins – not bats?

Initially, experts believed that the virus may have originated from bats sold in the wildlife market of Wuhan.

Pangolins are among the most poached animals in the world.

In a ScienceAlert article, however, we learn that a genetic analysis of the virus was 96% identical to those found in bats. And while that is a huge percentage, many believe that the disease probably did not transfer from bats to humans right away.

“We think there’s another animal that’s an intermediary,” said Arnaud Fontanet, of Pasteur Institute in France.

Pangolins are considered as exotic delicacy in China and other countries. Their scales are also used as medicine.

Although prohibited by the law, trafficking of the critically-endangered mammal have been widespread in the country.

Dr. Ian Lipkin, an expert on infectious disease, told CBS News that the “wild animal markets (should be) closed.”

Indonesian wildlife officials seized 5 tons of frozen pangolins in 2015.

Meanwhile, the World Wildlife Fund issued an official statement supporting a ban on China’s wild animal trade.

The organization wrote:

“This health crisis must serve as a wake-up call for the need to end unsustainable use of endangered animals and their parts, as exotic pets, for food consumption and for their perceived medicinal value.”

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