New Coronavirus Strain Found in Pigs Can Spread to Humans, Warn Scientists

The researchers tested several types of human cells by infecting them with the synthetic form of the virus

A new strain of the coronavirus that recently devastated the swine industry might have the potential to spread to humans, a new study has warned. The strain, which is known as acute diarrhea syndrome coronavirus or SADS-CoV, first emerged in 2016 and has devastated the pork industry.

As the name gives an idea, the virus causes vomiting, diarrhea and is very much deadly for young piglets. Now scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill claimed that the virus has the ability to replicate in humans as well.

In the research, the scientists tested many types of human cells by infecting them with the synthetic form of the virus. The tests revealed that a wide range of the human cells was prone to infection, which include liver and gut cells as well as airway cells.

New Coronavirus Strain Can Affect Humans

Pigs (Representational Picture) Pikrepo

"SADS-CoV is derived from bat coronaviruses called HKU2, which is a heterogenous group of viruses with a worldwide distribution. It is impossible to predict if this virus, or a closely related HKU2 bat strain, could emerge and infect human populations," Caitlin Edwards, who worked on the researched stated.

"However, the broad host range of SADS-CoV, coupled with an ability to replicate in primary human lung and enteric cells, demonstrates potential risk for future emergence events in human and animal populations," the scientist added. As per the findings, the scientists tested the antiviral drug remdesivir on the infected cells of humans and the drug showed a good response as it slowed down the spread of the virus.

"Promising data with remdesivir provides a potential treatment option in the case of a human spillover event. We recommend that both swine workers and the swine population be continually monitored for indications of SADS-CoV infections to prevent outbreaks and massive economic losses," Edwards said. This news comes amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has infected more than 38.1 million people worldwide and claimed the lives of over one million people globally in more than 170 countries.

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