Bat coronaviruses can infect up to 400,000 people in China and Southeast Asia each year


In the study, researchers at Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore and the EcoHealth Alliance in the United States built on previous efforts to track how many people in rural China have antibodies to bat coronavirus – in some places that figure can reach three percent.

The team then combined ecological and epidemiological data with modeling of bat spread to map the risk of exposure to bat coronaviruses in China and Southeast Asia and estimate the event rate. unreported overflow.

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They found that an average of 400,000 people are infected with a Sars-like coronavirus each year, although the median figure – which reflects the middle of a range of values ​​- was instead 50,000, reflecting some uncertainty.

Most of these people probably don’t realize they’ve been infected with a new bat virus and are likely to think of an illness as a bad cold or the flu, the researchers said.

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“Although the actual numbers are difficult to estimate with precision, this study shows that humans are continually exposed to bat coronaviruses,” said Dr Holmes. “More epidemics would not be a surprise.”

Professor Stuart Neil, a virologist at King’s College London who was also not involved in the research, added that the article “makes a strong case” and suggests that there is a “high likelihood” of infections. zoonotics occur frequently.

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