According to Fox News, between 2016 and 2018, scientists discovered six new types of coronavirus strains during a study. In about 460 bats from eleven different species were studied, and among the 750 samples of saliva and feces, six SARS-like viruses were found. This leads to the hypothesis that bats could hold up to thousands of yet unknown coronaviruses.
The six new viruses were generally named PREDICT-CoV, and each of them was given a number that links the virus to the species it was found in. PREDICT-CoV-90 was found in the Asiatic yellow house bat. PREDICT-CoV-47 and PREDICT-CoV-82 were both located in the wrinkle-lipped free-tailed bat, while PREDICT-CoV-92, PREDICT-CoV-93, and PREDICT-CoV-96 were found in the leaf-nosed bat.
The study was meant to help prevent a new coronavirus-like epidemy after SARS and MERS. It didn’t make it. Unfortunately, COVID-19 was not one of the six viruses found but one of the thousands of yet unknown ones.
Still, the study will help future “vigilant surveillance, research and education,” which “are the best tools we have to prevent pandemics before they occur,” as one of the study’s co-authors, Suzan Murray said. Maybe the research will help understand “the potential for transmission across species to understand the risks to human health better.”
Bats Carry Six New Coronavirus Strains
These days we might find ourselves blaming the bats for what we are living. And we might even think that something should be done about them – something that rhymes with their extinction. And we couldn’t be more wrong in thinking like this. We do it because we lack knowledge about bats’ importance for the entire ecosystem.
Bats are irreplaceable. Most of them prey on flies, mosquitos, beetles, moths, grasshoppers, crickets, termites, bees, wasps, mayflies, and caddisflies. This means they keep their population under control and don’t let them transform into invasions that could ruin the ecosystem and life as we know it.
We might blame them for feeding with bees, but some bat species are pollinators. They eat nectar, which means they help specific plant species pollination. There are rainforest plants that depend entirely on bats for the pollination that secures their survival.
Other species of bats are fruit eaters. One might think that they are pernicious, but they aren’t. Bats don’t eat the seeds. They take the fruits from the trees and feast with them in their nests, but they spit the seeds. Several plant species depend on bats for their seed dispersal. They are part of the same ecosystem that we depend on. So, we must find another way to cope with the harm they do. On the other hand, the other bats carry six new coronavirus strains.