They are wrongly accused of being reservoirs for viruses, Israeli researchers claim
There is no compelling evidence linking bats to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, Israeli researchers at Tel Aviv University have found after examining numerous scientific papers on infectious diseases.
“Two years after the pandemic first broke out, we still do not know for sure what the exact origin of the COVID-19 variant is,” Dr. Maya Weinberg, the lead author of the study, which was published in the August issue of iScience, said.
According to Weinberg, blaming the pandemic – which has taken the lives of over 6.4 million people – on bats is an “erroneous theory” that “was not based on sufficient compelling scientific proof and caused unnecessary stress and confusion worldwide.”
The possession of antibodies for the novel coronavirus by bats does not necessarily mean the disease was passed on to humans by them. It only shows that the animals were able to survive the disease and became resistant to it, Dr. Weinberg said. “Bats have a highly effective immune system that enables them to deal relatively easily with viruses considered lethal for other mammals.”
The researcher said her team studied papers on the origins of around 100 viruses, including Covid-19, SARS, and Ebola, finding that almost half of the claims regarding bats in them were “based on the incidence of antibodies or PCR tests, rather than actual isolation of identical viruses. Moreover, many of the reported findings are not convincing.”
“In general, bats are mistakenly conceived of as reservoirs of many contagious diseases,” she added.
On the contrary, scientists “must study in-depth the immunological anti-viral capabilities of bats and thus obtain new and effective means of coping in humanity’s struggle against contagious disease, aging and cancer,” Dr. Weinberg said.
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