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Chinese scientists discover 24 new variants of coronavirus in bats

Scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Shandong University conducted a study of the evolutionary origin of SARS-CoV-2 and discovered 24 new types of coronavirus in bats. The results are published in CellPress journal.

The experts examined samples of saliva and waste products from 342 bats collected from May 2019 to November 2020. The researchers found more than two dozen COVID-19 genomes and identified four types of coronavirus similar to SARS-CoV-2, which caused the pandemic.

The viruses associated with SARS-CoV-2 continue to circulate in bat populations, scientists said. They stressed that bats are an excellent natural reservoir for pathogens that cause severe disease in humans.

«In addition to bats and humans, coronavirus infection can infect many domestic and wild animals, including pigs, cattle, mice, cats, dogs, chickens, deer and hedgehogs,» the journal says.