Clarification: In order to avoid a misunderstanding and the spread of misinformation, it is important to know that neither of these viruses are closely related to SARS-Cov-1, MERS or Covid-19 (all of them caused wide-spread disease in humans).
More research is required to evalute the risk of a spillover to other species and to understand how big of a threat it is to human health – if at all.
How were they found?
A PREDICT team in Myanmar detected these viruses while they were conducting bio-surveillance of animals and people. The work servers as a mean to better understand the circumstances of how a disease spreads from one species to another.
Info: PREDICT is an initiative founded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). USAID supports the discovery and surveillance of pathogens which have the potential to spread from animals to humans. The research was part of thei project.
Method of Research
The research was conducted in locations in Myanmar where humans are more likely to come into contact with local wildlife, because of changes in land use and development. The scientists collected more than 750 saliva and fecal samples from bats within these areas. Then, the researchers tested and compared the samples to known coronaviruses. Thus they were able to identify six new coronaviruses [for the first time].
Importance of the Findings
The author of these findings told ScienceDaily that their result „underscore the importance of surveillance for zoonotic diseases as they occur in wildlife“. It will guide future surveillance of bat populations to better detect potential viral threats to public health, as well.
Marc Valitutto, a former wildlife veterinarian with the Smithsonian’s Global Health Program and lead author of the study, said: „Viral pandemics remind us how closely human health is connected to the health of wildlife and the environment,“ and since the frequency of humans interacting with wildlife increases, it is also very beneficial to humanity to better understand how a virus spreads from one species to another.
The better we understand how it works, the better the chances are to reduce the pandemic potential of such viruses.
An important paragraph of the article:
„Many coronaviruses may not pose a risk to people, but when we identify these diseases early on in animals, at the source, we have a valuable opportunity to investigate the potential threat,“ said Suzan Murray, director of the Smithsonian’s Global Health Program and co-author of the study. „Vigilant surveillance, research and education are the best tools we have to prevent pandemics before they occur.“
If you want to know more about the Smithsonian’s Global Health Program or PREDICT, then you can read the article here. The article is also more detailed, and it takes less than 15 minutes to read it.