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China’s scientist's study warns another Covid outbreak ‘highly likely’

Picture courtesy: Hindustan Times

Shi Zhengli, a prominent virologist renowned in China and often referred to as "batwoman," issued a cautionary statement in a recent collaborative paper. She emphasized the significant likelihood of another coronavirus emergence in the future. She stressed the importance of global preparedness for potential diseases akin to Covid-19, as she pointed out that if a coronavirus has triggered outbreaks in the past, the probability of it leading to future pandemics remains high.

In their comprehensive study, Shi Zhengli's research team from the Wuhan Institute of Virology conducted a thorough risk assessment of 40 different species of coronaviruses. The South China Post reported that their evaluation resulted in half of these species being classified as "highly risky."

Among this group, six coronaviruses have already been documented as causing diseases in humans, while there is supporting evidence suggesting that another three have caused illnesses or infected various animal species.

The study, which relied on an analysis of viral characteristics such as population dynamics, genetic diversity, host range, and past instances of zoonotic transmission, delivered a stark warning. It strongly indicated that future disease outbreaks are almost certain to occur, with a particularly high likelihood of another coronavirus-related disease emerging.

Shi Zhengli and her research team conducted essential research to identify key hosts of the pathogen, which encompassed natural hosts like bats and rodents. Additionally, they pinpointed potential intermediate hosts, such as camels, civets, pigs, or pangolins.

The scientist emphasized the significance of these studies, acknowledging that they may not be considered groundbreaking or technically complex within the scientific community.

Nevertheless, she underscored their importance, drawing a parallel to the need for a mushroom textbook to prevent the consumption of toxic mushrooms. Just as such tools are crucial for safety, establishing similar resources for pathogens is equally essential.

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