Bats in Switzerland are harbouring viruses from at least 39 different viral families including the ones that have the ability to jump from animals to humans, stated researchers of the University of Zurich. Isabelle Hardmeier and colleagues have presented these findings in the open-access journal PLOS ONE on June 16 stating that the conclusion was determined after an analysis of 18 species of stationary and migratory bats living in the European nation.
Even though there are only a handful of instances of disease-causing viruses jumping into humans, some pathogens carried by bats might transmit to other animals and then to humans. The same happened with SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19 which was first discovered in China in December 2019 and is believed to have animal origins.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic began, researchers have investigated viruses that are carried by bats in several countries. However, none of them focused on Switzerland. Hardmeier and colleagues investigated viruses carried by over 7,000 bats living in the country and they also analysed the DNA and RNA sequences of viruses found in organ, fecal, or stool samples collected from the bats.
The researchers wrote, “In order to assess the risk of bats in Switzerland for such transmissions, we determined the virome of tissue and fecal samples of 14 native and 4 migrating bat species. In total, sequences belonging to 39 different virus families, 16 of which are known to infect vertebrates, were detected.”
“Metagenomic analysis of bats endemic to Switzerland reveals broad virus genome diversity. Virus genomes from 39 different virus families were detected, 16 of which are know to infect vertebrates, including coronaviruses, adenoviruses, hepeviruses, rotaviruses A and H, and parvoviruses,” they added.
WIV kept bats in cages: Report
Meanwhile, as the World Health Organization (WHO) has repeatedly dismissed the Wuhan ‘lab leak’ theory for the origin of COVID-19, new footage from the Wuhan Insitute of Virology in China has revealed that bats were kept in cages. The SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19 and was discovered for the first time in China, is determined to have its roots in animals such as bats. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Wuhan ‘lab leak’ theory was fueled with claims that the pathogens related to animals were being studied by scientists in China. While WHO experts denied its possibility following their investigation in China’s Wuhan, the video obtained by Sky News Australia disapproves UN health agency’s denials.
As per the report, the leaked video is an official Chinese Academy of Sciences video to mark the launch of the new biosafety level 4 laboratory in May 2017. The 10-minute-long footage not only speaks about the security precautions that are in place if “an accident” occurs but also reveals “intense clashes” with the French government during the construction of the laboratory. The video showing bats being held in a cage at the Wuhan Insitute of Virology came after zoologist Peter Daszak, a member of the WHO team investigating the origin of the pandemic in the Chinese province suggested it is a conspiracy that bats were held at the lab.