Audio Interview

The evolutionary origin of SARS-CoV-2

Published on August 24, 2020   16 min

Other Talks in the Playlist: Interviews on Covid-19

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Interviewer: Professor Feng Gao. Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview with us today to discuss the origins of SARS-CoV-2 through zoonosis. Let me start by asking you directly about the concept of viral zoonosis. We know that many viruses are animal-borne. Can you provide a clearer picture of what we think occurred in the evolution of SARS-CoV-2? Professor Gao: Thanks for having me. This is a pretty big question. The SARS-CoV-2 right now is clearly stated to have shared some genetic information with the bat; it comes from the bat. We call it bat virus, or bat coronavirus, or bat CoV. So far, all the genetic information is indicating to there, so the bat is probably the final designate as a reservoir for their version of SARS-CoV-2. But, the closest to the humans and the SARS-CoV-2 virus is one particular virus called RaTG13. But, it is still different from the human virus by about 3.6 percent. This looks like it cannot be the direct ancestor for the human SARS-CoV-2. But, when you actually look into another virus that is little far away from the human SARS-CoV-2 is a virus that infects the pangolins and it's called the pangolin virus. This virus is a more divergent hand when compared to the human virus. They only share the genetic similarity by about 91 percent- more unlikely to be the direct ancestors. The unique part of this virus that infects the pangolins, which is the receptor-binding site that determines