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Bats in Laos Caves Harbor Closest Relatives to Covid-19 Virus

  • Pasteur Institute scientists tested hundreds of horseshoe bats
  • Finding moves researchers closer to pinpointing Covid origins
Greater Horseshoe Bat.

Greater Horseshoe Bat.

Source: De Agostini Editorial/Getty Images

Bats dwelling in limestone caves in northern Laos were found to carry coronaviruses that share a key feature with SARS-CoV-2, moving scientists closer to pinpointing the cause of Covid-19.

Researchers at France’s Pasteur Institute and the University of Laos looked for viruses similar to the one that causes Covid among hundreds of horseshoe bats. They found three with closely matched receptor binding domains -- the part of the coronavirus’s spike protein used to bind to human ACE-2, the enzyme it targets to cause an infection.