Feb 7, 2020
USA TODAY – A Chinese university says scientists identified the heavily trafficked pangolin as a possible intermediary host of the new coronavirus.
The coronavirus from China is believed to have originated in bats and transferred to humans through some other animal, health officials say.
The pangolin may be that key link, researchers at South China Agricultural University said Friday.
“This latest discovery will be of great significance for the prevention and control of the origin of the new coronavirus,” South China Agricultural University said in a translated statement.
The research team tested more than 1,000 samples from wild animals and a found a 99% match between the genome sequences of viruses found in pangolins and those in human patients, the AFP reported, citing Chinese state media.
James Wood, a veterinary medicine professor at the University of Cambridge, told the French news agency that more data is needed and showing similarity between the genome sequences alone is “not sufficient.”
Dirk Pfeiffer, professor of veterinary medicine at Hong Kong’s City University, told Reuters:
“You can only draw more definitive conclusions if you compare prevalence (of the coronavirus) between different species based on representative samples, which these almost certainly are not.”
Pangolins, the world’s only scaly mammal, have long been valued for their meat, viewed as a delicacy in some Asian countries, and scales, used for traditional medicine, according to the World Wildlife Fund.
Recent conservation efforts have worked to protect the eight pangolin species found in Asia and Africa and threatened by illegal international trade.
More than 100,000 pangolins are poached every year, according to WildAid, a nonprofit that works on illegal animal trade.
The outbreak may have emerged from a market selling seafood and meat in Wuhan … Read more.