While British intelligence revealed last week that the Chinese biological apparatus introduced coronavirus to the animal kingdom in Wuhan, Indian scientists have found out that a similar virus exists in the animal kingdom of India. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has identified a coronavirus-like strain for the first time in two species of Indian bats.
Recall that the viruses that caused Severe and Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Nipah were varieties of the coronavirus [there are several differences too].
The virus in these flying mammals is being referred to as BTCoV. The two species of coronavirus-carrying mammals of the order Chiroptera have been found in four states of the country: Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Puducherry and Tamil Nadu.
However, it is quite possible that China misled the world by floating the ‘crossing the species barrier‘ story to deflect attention from the activities of its P4 Lab that makes biological weapons, the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the Wuhan Centre for Disease Control. As such, the communist regime of Beijing has named different animals at different points in time as the primary host of coronavirus: snakes, fish, pigs and bats.
The ICMR research says that there is no evidence or study to suggest the virus found in bats can infect humans.
NIV scientist explains viruses in bats
According to researcher and scientist at the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune, Dr Pragya D Yadav, coronavirus has been found in 25 bats of two species named Rousettus and Pteropus (aka flying foxes, which are mostly herbivorous) in Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Puducherry and Tamil Nadu.
Yadav said that this coronavirus found in Indian bats has nothing to do with SARS or COVID-19 infection. The scientist said that Pteropus hosts the Nipah virus that was found in Kerala in the year 2018-19.
Yadav explained that bats are natural hosts of many types of viruses. She said that in the present day, changing environment and changes in nature, it is possible for bats to interact with other organisms and humans, which need not involve humans eating bat meat.
“Bats are considered to be the natural reservoir for many viruses, of which some are potential human pathogens. In India, an association of Pteropus medius bats with the Nipah virus was reported in the past. It is suspected that the recently emerged severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) also has its association with bats,” the objective of the study titled ‘Detection of coronaviruses in Pteropus and Rousettus species of bats from different states of India’ stated.
“In the present scenario of changing demography and ecological manipulations, it is challenging to have checks on the encounters of bats with other animals and humans,” the study stated.
The researchers stressed the need for active and continuous surveillance for outbreak alerts for bat-associated viral agents with potential of causing epidemics. This would help in timely interventions.
“Although CoVs in the subfamily coronavirinae do not usually produce clinical symptoms in their natural hosts (bats), an accidental transmission of these viruses to humans and other animals may result in respiratory, enteric, hepatic or neurologic diseases of variable severity. It is still not understood as to why only certain CoVs can infect people,” the study said.
The scientists stressed on the need of proactive surveillance of zoonotic infections in these animals.
The detection and identification of such viruses from bats also warrants cross-sectional anti-body surveys (human and domestic animals) in localities where the viruses have been detected.