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Pangolins Latest Animal Identified as Intermediate Coronavirus Host

By Dave Yin / Feb 08, 2020 03:40 AM / Society & Culture

The pangolin, a scaly mammalian anteater, is the latest animal to be identified as an intermediate host of the novel coronavirus that has sickened more than 31,000 people worldwide.

According to local media reports, an analysis of genome sequences of viruses isolated from pangolins were a 99% match with those of 2019-nCoV, as the coronavirus behind the epidemic is known. Pangolins are a trafficked, critically endangered species whose scales are believed by some to have medicinal properties.

Scientists at the South China Agricultural University in Guangzhou, Guangdong province in southern China, reported findings Friday from research conducted jointly with the People's Liberation Army Academy of Military Science in Beijing and the research department of the Guangdong Zoo.

“This has major significance for the prevention and control of the novel coronavirus,” South China Agricultural said in a statement, though it did not elaborate on the research.

While there is general consensus among scientists that the new strain of coronavirus spread from bats to another host before making the jump to humans, previous research pointing to snakes as the culprit has been disputed.

Contact reporter Dave Yin (davidyin@caixin.com)

Related: Scientists Dispute Whether Snakes Are Source of Coronavirus In Humans

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