SARS-CoV-2 incubated in bats and pangolins and possibly even a third species before it was first transmitted to humans, according to research in Science Advances. But scientists say the pangolin may not be the primary reservoir for human transmission.
“In our study, we demonstrated that indeed SARS-CoV-2 has a rich evolutionary history that included a reshuffling of genetic material between bat and pangolin coronavirus before it acquired its ability to jump to humans,” said Elena Giorgi, a staff scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory who worked on the study.
Whether the mixing and matching between bat viruses and pangolin viruses was enough to change the virus into a form that now easily infects humans remains unclear, the researchers said.
“The currently sampled pangolin coronaviruses are too divergent from SARS-CoV-2 to be its recent progenitors,” the researchers wrote.