science

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



Researchers have discovered coronaviruses lurking in Laotian bats that appear to be the closest known relatives to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, found to date, according to news reports.

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



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