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Novel coronavirus circulated unnoticed in bats for decades, study says

The SARS-CoV-2 virus is likely to have diverged from closely related bat viruses called the sarbecovirus, 40-70 years ago, a study published in Nature Microbiology says. The ability of the spike protein in the virus to bind to ACE2 human receptors had emerged within bats and is an ancestral trait shared with bat viruses and “not one acquired recently via recombination”. The Nature Microbiology paper also challenges the notion that pangolins would have served as an intermediate host where the virus would have acquired its ability to infect human cells thus facilitating the jump into humans.

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