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Fearsome Viruses and Where To Find Them

Almost a year has passed since the outbreak of COVID-19. The coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 started its journey in the city of Wuhan, China, and since then it infected over 50 million people worldwide, killing 2.5% of them (Johns Hopkins data). Scientists are largely convinced it has a natural origin, but there are many things we still do not know. Genetic analyses clearly tell us that the ancestor of SARS-CoV-2 was a bat virus, most likely originating in southern China: both its closest relatives (RaTG13 and RmYN02), have been identified in Yunnan province, as well as many other SARS viruses discovered in bats so far. It is still not clear, however, how exactly this virus has traveled the 1000 km that separate Yunnan from the city of Wuhan, home of the famous Institute of Virology that has been studying bat coronaviruses for years. On this specific point, opinions differ, even within the scientific community itself.

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