While the world is struggling and trying hard to fight against COVID-19 infection, scientists in China are hunting for bats in different caves to identify any potential coronavirus or other deadly pathogens before they spread to humans. This is a significant step in order to prevent any future pandemic and save millions of lives. Also Read - Coronavirus in Delhi: Kejriwal Govt Relaxes Lockdown Orders For Some Services. Check What Will be Available
According to a CNN report, a small team of researchers in China’s south-western Yunnan province, are collecting bat droppings or urine by entering caves, capturing the animals, and injecting mild anesthetic in them. Oral swab and blood are also extracted for detection of viruses. Also Read - Global COVID-19 Cases Cross 3 Million; Trump Says US Coronavirus Deaths Could Reach 70,000
Until now, scientists have collected over 15,000 bat samples. This helped in identifying 500 new coronaviruses including one that is being considered a possible ancestor of COVID-19. Also, the researchers involved in this study estimate that bats harbour up to 15,000 coronaviruses. And, currently we are aware of only a few hundred of them. Also Read - Entertainment News Today, April 28: Akshay Kumar Donates Rs 2 cr to Mumbai Police After 3 Personnel Die of Coronavirus
China is chosen as the major site for this project as it is the origin of SARS and scientists believe that a lot is still there in this country to be discovered that can potentially finish the human race, if not identified early. Also, a huge area of China consists of wildlife biodiversity.
A team of another researchers are operating in other countries and have managed to find six new coronaviruses in Myanmar. Notably, a large number of human population in South East Asia and China is dependent on wildlife for survival. They regularly come in direct contact with the wildlife by hunting and selling it.
Coming back to the current research, scientists have found that 3 per cent of population living near two bat caves in Yunnan province have already developed antibodies for some viruses only found in bats. This clearly means that they must have earlier came in contact with the viruses and recovered.
Why Most of The Deadly Viruses Are Found in Bats Only
Scientists explain that coronaviruses require an intermediate animal host to be able to bind to their receptors and then jump to humans. Mostly, the animal host is a bat as it is a flying mammal and bats tone down their immune system in order to cope with the stress generated as a result of too much flying. This makes them susceptible to viruses. Also, they live in huge colonies and therefore potentially spread the viral load to other bats.