"A coronavirus related to the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans has been found in UK horseshoe bats—according to new collaborative research from the University of East Anglia, ZSL (Zoological Society of London), and Public Health England (PHE). However, there is no evidence that this novel virus has been transmitted to humans, or that it could in future, unless it mutates," the message reads.
It is noted that it is likely that bats have retained the virus for a very long time. It does not currently pose a direct threat to humans, as the part of the virus that attaches to host cells to infect them is incompatible with the possibility of infecting human cells. However, the virus found is likely to mutate, in which case it will be dangerous to humans.
A mutation in this type of coronavirus can occur if a person infected with Covid-19 transmits it to an infected bat, so anyone who comes in contact with bats or their droppings should wear personal protective equipment.
Horseshoe bats are found throughout Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. Previously, similar viruses have been found in other species of horseshoe bats in China, Southeast Asia, and Eastern Europe. The bats that are being studied by British scientists belong to their western range, which allows to expand both the geographical and species range of these types of viruses and to assume their presence among more than 90 species of horseshoe bats.
"The research team say that these bats will almost certainly have harbored the virus for a very long time. And it has been found now, because this is the first time that they have been tested," Phys.org reports.
As it was reported, the WHO has considered four main versions of the origin of the coronavirus. WHO scientists called the most likely transmission from a host animal through an intermediary animal to a human, and the least likely - a leak from the laboratory. At the end of March, the Organization published the results of joint work with China. The report states that the coronavirus was transmitted to humans from a bat through an animal.