When covid-19 began to spread around the world, Professor Gregory Gray from Duke University’s Institute for Global Health instructed his PhD students to develop a coronavirus test in the laboratory that should cover all species and thus help Responding to the next pandemic.
The idea is to use the tool to search for human coronavirus test samples after verifying its accuracy to detect signs of such viruses that may originate from animals.
Gray and his colleagues found that as early as 2017 and 2018, a group of Malaysian children admitted to the hospital with pneumonia had canine coronavirus.
Experts at Duke University believe that their disease is caused by a virus that spreads to them from dogs, although they have not yet been able to prove it with certainty.
But given its genetic makeup, this canine coronavirus is currently unlikely to spread among humans.
Gray told Agence France-Presse: “We advocate more extensive testing of all species to discover the five virus families that we believe are the most difficult to spread among humans.
“The key message is that such things may have happened all over the world, so no matter where people are in close and frequent contact with animals, we cannot find them. I think we should study this phenomenon because if we can detect They determine how these viruses successfully use humans as hosts as early as possible, and we can even eliminate them before they become a pandemic,” epidemiologist Gray believes.
For many years, coronaviruses have not been fully studied because they are mainly related to the common cold, but this changed after the SARS and MERS epidemics spread from civets and camels to humans in 2002 and 2012.
Many scientists believe that the virus that causes the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is also of animal origin. Although there are still many unknowns, the discovery of a new type of coronavirus that can be transmitted from animals to humans worries scientists.
Gray asked Chinese PhD student Lishan Xiu to develop a comprehensive coronavirus test, and he successfully did it. He discovered where the genetic sequences of different members of the coronavirus family overlap.
These tools were used to study tests for patients with pneumonia in a hospital in Sarawak, Malaysia. Canine coronavirus was detected in 8 out of 301 samples.
Since this discovery was surprising, they asked one of America’s most famous virologists, Anastasia Vlasova of Ohio University, to confirm that the latter managed to breed more Such viruses also sequence their entire genomes.
They named the virus CCoV-HuPn-2018 and found that the virus mainly comes from dogs, but it also has components of cats and pigs.
Mutations that can adapt to human-to-human transmission have also been discovered, but it is not clear how long this evolution will take. Gray said, maybe it was decades, but maybe not at all.
All patients in Sarawak have successfully recovered from pneumonia. “But once someone takes you to the hospital for pneumonia, it means that this is a more serious disease,” Gray said.