Gao Fu, the director-general of China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said that the new virus is almost 70% similar to the SARS virus, which originated from bats.
Experts have suggested that bats could host the virus after photos of Wuhan residents eating bat soup emerged online, reported Daily Star.
Scientists released a statement released to the South China Morning Post that said: “The Wuhan coronavirus’ natural host could be bats … but between bats and humans, there may be an unknown intermediate.“
Scientists suspect Wuhan coronavirus from bat soup
A study published in the journal Science China Life Sciences on Tuesday examined the relations between the new strain and other viruses. Beijing’s Chinese Academy of Sciences sponsored the study.
It revealed that the new strain of coronavirus from Wuhan, China was closely related to a strain found in bats.
“Bats being the native host of the Wuhan CoV (coronavirus) would be the logical and convenient reasoning, though it remains likely there was intermediate host(s) in the transmission cascade from bats to humans,” the researchers from several institutions in China wrote in the paper.
The study did not speculate which animal served as an “intermediate host.”
However, a second study released yesterday in the Journal of Medical Virology identifies snakes as the possible culprit.
“To search for (a) potential virus reservoir, we have carried out a comprehensive sequence analysis and comparison. Results from our analysis suggest that snake is the most probable wildlife animal reservoir,” the paper says.
The researchers, however, clarified that their conclusions require “further validation by experimental studies in animal models.”
The study also did not explain how the new strain of coronavirus has been transferred from animals to humans.