Viruses found in bats in Laos are the closest known relatives of SARS-CoV-2


Researchers have discovered coronavirus are hiding in Laotian bats which appear to be the closest known relatives of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, found to date, according to reports.

In a new study, researchers from the Institut Pasteur in France and the University of Laos captured 645 bats in limestone caves in northern Laos and screened them for viruses linked to SARS-CoV-2. They found three viruses – which they dubbed BANAL-52, BANAL-103, and BANAL-236 – that infected horseshoe bats and shared over 95% of their overall genome with SARS-CoV -2.

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