Beijing, Feb 7 (IANS): The genome sequence of the novel coronavirus strain separated from pangolins was 99 per cent identical to that from infected people, indicating that the scaly mammal may be an intermediate host of the deadly virus, a study has found.
The study was led by the South China Agricultural University, reports Xinhua news agency.
According to Liu Yahong, president of the university, the research team analyzed more than 1,000 metagenome samples of wild animals and found pangolins as the most likely intermediate host.
Molecular biological detection revealed that the positive rate of Betacoronavirus in pangolins was 70 per cent.
Researchers further isolated the virus and observed its structure with an electron microscope.
They found that the genome sequence of the coronavirus strain was 99 per cent identical to those in infected people.
Results showed that pangolins were a potential intermediate host of the novel coronavirus, Liu said, adding that the study will support the prevention and control of the epidemic, as well as offer scientific reference for policies on wild animals.
The coronavirus has so far killed 636 people in China.