- Scientists discovered that bats have what they call "super immunity"
- They believe this is the one that allows these mammals to carry coronaviruses without getting sick
- The bats' immune system seems to enter into a long-term relationship with the virus
- These findings could help scientists in possibly determining how the virus may have jumped from bats to humans
Coronaviruses like those that causes Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) are believed to have come from bats. Many scientists also presuppose that the same might be true for COVID-19.
Science Daily revealed that for some reason not previously known and understood, these viruses often cause serious, usually fatal diseases in people, but it does not seem to cause any harm to bats. Today, researchers from the University of Saskatchewan (USask) say they may have found an explanation.
Bat Immune Response
Vikram Misra, a USask microbiologist and co-author of the research paper, explained that he and his team wanted to fully understand why the immune response of bats does not shut down with the presence of MERS-CoV. “The bats don't get rid of the virus and yet don't get sick,” according to Misra.
As per the research team, they found that important adaptations from both the virus and the bat working together allow the latter to survive without getting sick. Their findings were published in Scientific Reports.
In the study, the researchers persistently infected the cells of an insect-eating brown bat with the MERS-CoV for months. They observed that instead of overcoming and killing bat cells as the virus usually does with human cells, the MERS-CoV entered into a long-term relationship with its host. According to Misra, this is then maintained by the unique ‘super’ immune system of the bat, and he believes that SARS-CoV-2 also operates in the same manner.
The findings of the group suggest that stresses on the flying mammals, such as habitat loss and other diseases, may play a role in the virus being transmitted to other species. “When a bat experiences stress to their immune system, it disrupts this immune system-virus balance and allows the virus to multiply,” Visram noted.
Able To Jump From Species To Species
The research was conducted at the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization -- International Vaccine Centre (VIDO-InterVac), one of the largest containment level 3 research facilities in the world and also among the companies trying to develop a vaccine against COVID-19. The researchers were composed of scientists from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine at USask and VIDO-InterVac.
According to Darryl Falzarano, a VIDO-InterVac scientist, the MERS-CoV can quickly adapt itself to a particular place. He said this shows just how easy it is for coronaviruses to jump from species to species.
In the Philippines, the government faced problems when they imposed the initial community quarantine, which was elevated into enhanced community quarantine. It also suspended transportation causing massive problems with commuters.
In a previous report by KAMI, doctors have died after being infected by COVID-19. They are among the frontliners who attend to the patients rushing to hospitals amid pandemic.
The COVID-19 outbreak started out in Wuhan, Hubei Province of China. Scientists believed that the virus came from an animal at one of Wuhan's wet markets. The Philippines has slowly eased quarantine measures and Filipinos are starting to adapt to the new normal.
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