A study carried out by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and National Institute of Virology (NIV) has detected a different kind of coronavirus in two species of Indian bats named as bat coronavirus(btCoV) in the Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Puducherry, and Tamil Nadu. As many as 25 bat species were tested of which two speciies, Rousettus and Indian Flying Fox were found positive for BtCoV. The reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests and sequencing were used to confirm the findings.
As part of the study, 508 samples of the Indian Flying Fox and 78 samples of Rousettus were taken of which 21 and 4 samples of each species were found positive. As of now, there is no research that suggests that bat coronavirus can cause disease in humans, said Dr Pragya D Yadav, Scientist at the National Institute of Virology, Pune. She said, “There’s no evidence or research to claim that these can be potential pathogens to humans. These bat coronaviruses don’t have any relation with SARS-CoV2 that is responsible for COVID-19 pandemic.”
Dr. Pragya Yadav also stated that Pteropus bat species were earlier found positive for the Nipah virus in 2018 and 2019 in Kerala.
ICMR and NIV study on coronavirus in Indian bats
The study of ICMR titled ‘Detection of coronaviruses in Pteropus and Rousettus species of bats from different states of India’ stated that bats are considered to be the natural reservoir for many viruses, of which some are potential human pathogens. In India, an association of Pteropus medius bats with the Nipah virus was reported in the past. It is suspected that the recently emerged severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) also has its association with bats. Although CoVs in the subfamily coronavirinae do not usually produce clinical symptoms in their natural hosts (bats), the accidental transmission of these viruses to humans and other animals may result in respiratory, enteric, hepatic or neurologic diseases of variable severity. It is still not understood as to why only certain CoVs can infect people.
The virus which originated in Wuhan district of China has till now infected over 20 million people worldwide and resulted in death of over a lakh people. The coronavirus has been declared a pandemic and the countries world over are struggling to cope with the extent of infection.