Researchers in Cambodia found that a close relative of Novel Coronavirus existed in Cambodia more than a decade ago.
Researchers found a coronavirus strain that closely resembles the novel coronavirus in a sample of bats stored in a lab freezer in Cambodia since 2010.
According to East Daily News, Sky News reported on January 28, Cambodian scientists in 2010 collected from two horseshoe bats retained samples found a coronavirus strain with a high genetic similarity of 92.6 percent to the new crown.
Scientists from the Pasteur Institute in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, found the findings in samples that had been refrigerated for more than a decade. The study was published in a preprint (the research has not yet been published in official publication, and the research will be peer-reviewed) BioRxiv.
Horseshoe bats are considered to be the natural gene pool for the SARS coronavirus, the report said.
The bats live in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. No horseshoe bats carrying the strain have been found in China.
Researchers at the Pasteur Institute in Phnom Penh apparently did not conclude that the novel coronavirus originated in Cambodia, one of the least affected countries, with fewer than 30,000 confirmed cases and only 462 deaths, according to French newspaper Echos.
But it is worth noting that, in the view of the Pasteur researchers, the data they published showed that “the viruses associated with novel coronavirus are more geographically extensive than has been thought so far.”