New findings by Scientists have shown that there could be the emergence of a new virus deadlier than Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) or even the Zika virus.
The scientists in a study published on March 14, 2016, edition of the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, titled “SARS-like WIV1-CoV poised for human emergence” said outbreaks from zoonotic sources represent a threat to both human as well as the global economy.
The scientists are already bracing up for a potential outbreak of the new SARS-like virus warning that the new virus, called WIV1-CoV, may induce the same results in humans as SARS – starting out with flu-like symptoms and accelerating rapidly to pneumonia.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Bat SARS-like coronavirus WIV1, (Bat SL-CoV-WIV1) also sometimes called SARS-like coronavirus WIV1 that is W1V1-CoV, is a newly identified CoV isolated from Chinese rufous horseshoe bats. The discovery confirms that bats are the natural reservoir of the SARS virus.
Phylogenetic analysis shows the possibility of direct transmission of SARS from bats to humans without the intermediary Chinese civets, as previously believed.
According to the researchers, the capacity of this group of viruses to jump into humans is greater than originally thought. While other adaptations may be required to produce an epidemic, several viral strains circulating in bat populations have already overcome the barrier of replication in human cells and suggest reemergence as a distinct possibility.
The researchers wrote:
Focusing on the SARS-like viruses, the results indicate that the WIV1-coronavirus (CoV) cluster has the ability to directly infect and may undergo limited transmission in human populations. However, in vivo attenuation suggests additional adaptation is required for epidemic disease. Importantly, available SARS monoclonal antibodies offered success in limiting viral infection absent from available vaccine approaches. Together, the data highlight the utility of a platform to identify and prioritize prepandemic strains harboured in animal reservoirs and document the threat posed by WIV1-CoV for emergence in human populations.
The researchers led by Dr. Vineet Menachery of Department of Epidemiology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, said:
This virus may never jump to humans, but if it does, WIV1-CoV has the potential to seed a new outbreak with significant consequences for both public health and the global economy.
The new virus is very similar to SARS – as it originates from the same Chinese horseshoe bats as SARS and also binds to the same receptor inside the human body.