A World Health Organization scientist, Peter Ben Embarek, an expert in animal diseases that jump to humans, said Covid-19 comes from bats and can spread among cats and ferrets, and dogs to a limited extent without specifying whether they can transmit the disease to people. “It’s important to find out which animals can get infected to avoid creating a ‘reservoir’ in another species”, he said at a meeting this morning.
WHO scientists are considering a new mission to China to get more information about the virus’s animal origin, Maria van Kerkhove, (video) one of the agency’s top epidemiologists, said at a press briefing Wednesday. Questions remain about whether the virus travelled directly from bats to people, or if other species were involved.
Theories abound regarding the possible immunity of pangolins from COVID-19.
In a recent study, researchers at the Medical University of Vienna in Austria analyzed the genomic blueprint of pangolins and compared it with other mammals including humans, cats, dogs and cattle.
In most mammals, certain genes detect when a virus enters the body, triggering an immune response against the invader.
But pangolins lack two of these virus-sensing genes, the research team reported in the May 8 issue of the journal Frontiers in Immunology. Whether or not that difference shields the creatures from COVID-19 isn’t known, but warrants further investigation (UPI) such as that planned by WHO.