Chinese researchers recently said they discovered a new batch of coronavirus inside bats — and one of them is pretty close to the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

The researchers said the findings — which were found in a small region in the Yunnan province, which is in southwestern China — show just how many different coronaviruses there are in the world, and how quickly they can spread.

  • “In total, we assembled 24 novel coronavirus genomes from different bat species, including four SARS-CoV-2 like coronaviruses,” the researchers wrote in a new study, which was published in the journal Cell.
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The researchers said one of the viruses was close to SARS-CoV-2, according to CNN. However, there was a difference in the spike protein, which attaches to cells and infects people.

Do bats spread coronaviruses?

The Chinese researchers said bats often have a number of viruses that can transmit to humans.

  • “Bats are well-known reservoir hosts for a variety of viruses that cause severe diseases in humans and have been associated with the spillovers of Hendra virus, Marburg virus, Ebola virus and, most notably, coronaviruses. Aside from bats and humans, coronaviruses can infect a wide range of domestic and wild animals, including pigs, cattle, mice, cats, dogs, chickens, deer and hedgehogs,” they wrote.

COVID-19 origins

The report comes as researchers are trying to discover the origins of COVID-19. Back in March, a report from the World Health Organization and Chinese researchers detailed the most likely COVID-19 origin story.

Per The Associated Press, the most likely theory suggests that the virus jumped from bats to humans. However, there would have been an animal that would have helped move the virus along. The report did not name that third animal.

  • Per The Daily Beast, the report said that “the evolutionary distance between these bat viruses and SARS-CoV-2 is estimated to be several decades, suggesting a missing link.”
  • According to the AP, animals such as pangolins, minks and cats can carry the novel coronavirus. That means they could have been the link.

However, Dr. Anthony Fauci said he is “not convinced” COVID-19 was developed naturally, as I wrote for the Deseret News.

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