A Riddle in the Bat Cave

Long term followers of LSS will recall several blogs discussing the prevalence of coronavirus strains in wild populations. (LSS passim). We relayed the thoughts of those far more erudite writers at places like Nature and New Scientist, which pointed to a fascinating ecosystem of viruses, small mammals and dank dirty caves along the wild borderlands of China, Laos and Myanmar.

Fascinating for the scientist; but now things down there may suddenly have global geopolitical significance, gentle readers. As you know, there is a massive blame game going on as to whose fault all this is. At the moment, the two chief protagonists are the United States of America and the Peoples Republic of China. And the following story, which today we source from Mail writer Sam Blanchard, will only add fuel to the fire.

Back in 2012 (that’s seven years before the outbreak, gentle reader) Chinese scientists became aware of a virus in bats in a place called Mojiang in South western China. It was a coronavirus. It produced nasty symptoms, some of which were lethal. It was 96.2% similar to SARS-CoV-2. They wrote it up in a paper, giving it the catchy name of RaBtCoV/4991,and you can-should, actually-read the rest in Sam’s story.

Our aim at LSS is always to stand back from the stories, and ask questions. As this has explosive political significance, we think all citizens need answers to the following questions

1 What does “96.2% similarity “mean? Where are the differences in the other 3.8%? Is it in the spikes? Or the RNA-or what?

2 How many other viruses are in wild bat populations? What about other mammals? How much time and money will it take to find out?

3 Did any samples from Mojiang travel to other parts of China-or elsewhere? Under what conditions of storage, transport and security?

4 How can the rest of us stop the two most powerful nations in the world from playing and endless blame game, and instead show leadership on this as well as many other problems, like antibiotic resistance and climate change?

Don’t send your answers to us, send them to the governments of those countries. Oh yeah, postcards are a bit passe now-try a social media platform.


#bats #coronavirus #SARS-CoV-2 #covid19 #PRC #USA

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