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This is not the First Time: Researchers discovered Major Coronavirus Epidemic happened 20,000 years ago


Published on: October 5, 2021,

It seems corona virus in not a new epidemic. A new study co- authored by a University of Arizona researcher has discovered a coronavirus epidemic broke in East Asia more than 20,000 years ago. It was found from studying genomes of modern humans from 26 worldwide population.


Ina a paper published in Current Biology researchers analyzed genomes of more than 2500 modern humans from 26 worldwide populations, to analyze how humans have adapted from historical coronavirus outbreaks. In the past 20 years there have been three outbreaks of epidemic severe coronaviruses which were SARA, MERS-CoV and SARS- CoV-2 leading to COIVD -19. But studying genome has revealed another large conorna virus epidemic broke thousands of years earlier.


“It is like finding fossilized dinosaur footprints instead of finding fossilized bones directly,” said David Enard, a professor in the Arizona Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. The result revealed that ancesors of East Asian people experienced as epidemic of coronavirus induced disease similar to COVID-19. They were ancestors of people living in China, Japan, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea and Taiwan.


“We found the 42 VIPS are primarily active in the lungs and confirmed that interact directly with the virus underlying the current pandemic,” said the paper’s first author Yassine Souilmi of the University of Adelaide’s School of Biological Sciences. The work shows that over the course of epidemic selection favored certain variants involved in the virus cell interactions that could have led to a less severe disease. The study can help to understand how human populations adapted to viruses that emerged as drivers of human evolution.


The study’s author say their research can help identify viruses that caused epidemic in distant past and may do so in the future. Such studies help researcher compile list of viruses and develop cure, vaccines and diagnostics for the pandemics.


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