Coronavirus: Cambridge virus expert reveals the origin of Covid-19

10 March 2020, 17:25 | Updated: 10 March 2020, 17:47

By Seán Hickey

The public's knowledge of coronavirus grows day by day, but one thing that hasn't been clarified since the initial outbreak is what exactly humans caught coronavirus from.

Eddie Mair was joined by Dr. Chris Smith, the Managing Editor of The Naked Scientist and medical consultant in clinical microbiology and virology at the University of Cambridge.

The first question of the day for Dr. Smith was whether domestic animals can contract coronavirus from humans, which set off the doctor on a lesson for the listeners.

"We know with almost no doubt that this is a virus that came from bats" he said. Dr. Smith claimed that the coronavirus found in humans is "96.5% the same" as in bats, with the remaining 3.5% "very similar to a coronavirus found in a pangolin".

Dr. Smith believes that human coronavirus could well be "a mix of the two".

"could we end up giving the virus back to animals"

"there's a reasonable likelihood that animals could be infected"

Human coronavirus is 96.5% similar to a virus found in bats
Human coronavirus is 96.5% similar to a virus found in bats. Picture: PA

Going back to the question "could we end up giving the virus back to animals", Dr. Smith cited a case he read whereby the virus was found in the dog of a man who contracted Covid-19.

"There's a reasonable likelihood that animals could be infected" the editor of The Naked Scientist stated.

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