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Bat coronaviruses may infect tens of thousands of people early

Alerts for a potential finding for future ‘Spillover’ events originating from parts of Southeast Asia where the human and bat population densities are highest is worrisome. It presents a big challenge for public health agencies as the data predicts approximately 66,000 potential coronavirus infections annually. A recent study analyzed the geographic ranges of 26 bat species in Southeast Asia.

This showed their habitat overlapped with regions where half a billion people live, representing an area larger than 5 million square kilometers, posed a huge potential for tens of thousands of people to get SARS-CoV-2 related coronaviruses each year. Although most of these SARS-related viruses don’t easily spread amongst humans or cause illness, scientists worry that the continuous ‘raining down on people’ could eventually lead to a pandemic.

The study mostly relied on outdated and low-resolution geographical range data looking only at bat-to-human spillover events which did not consider infections that first transmit from bats to an intermediate animal and later to humans. With this in mind, scientists think more refined and precise studies could prove to be very valuable in monitoring spillover events in high-risk regions and to identify outbreaks sooner.

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