The study helps to understand which populations are most threatened by the virus and how it is transmitted from animals to humans.
Scientists presented a list of 410 vertebrate species that can be infected with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. It turned out that humans and primates close to them are at the highest risk. Details are published in the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (APF2) serves as a SARS-CoV-2 receptor in humans вЂ” thanks to it, the virus enters the body's cells. The main role in this is played by 25 amino acids APF2.
An international team of biologists studied them and performed genomic and structural analyses of the enzyme in 410 vertebrate species to understand which animals might get COVID-19.
Scientists have found a link between the risk of infection and how much the amino acid sequence of APF2 in animals matches that of humans.
вЂњThe stronger it is, the lower the risk of getting sick,вЂќ said Joana Damas, a research associate at the University of California at Davis and the first author of the paper.
This observation allowed biologists to divide animals into groups:
The highest risk group included 18 Primate species: narrow-nosed apes and hominids including humans.
The second group included rodents, sea animals, deer, and lemurs.
Livestock and cats had an average chance of getting sick, while pigs, horses, dogs, and some other Pets had a low chance of getting sick.
In marsupials, reptiles, amphibians, and birds, the threat of infection tends to zero.
вЂњThe data we have obtained is important for determining the populations that SARS-CoV-2 can most harm,вЂќ added Harris Levin, lead author of the study and a professor at the University of California, Davis. The full list can be seen here.
It turned out that about 40% of the species potentially susceptible to SARS-CoV-2, according to the International Union for the conservation of nature, are at risk of extinction. These include the Western gorilla, the white-cheeked crested gibbon, and the Sumatran orangutan. They are at an extremely high risk of infection with SARS-CoV-2 via the APF2 receptor.
Scientists also found that the threat of infection is directly related to the ability to transmit the virus to other populations: the higher the risk, the more likely it is that the animal will be able to spread the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.
The authors of the paper warned that the study still needs to be confirmed experimentally вЂ” until it can be considered absolutely accurate. However, the results significantly expanded the list of potential intermediate hosts and identified many species that may be at risk of infection with SARS-CoV-2 via APF2 receptors. In the future, this will help determine which types of coronavirus can be transmitted to humans.
Recall that llamas produce antibodies that suppress COVID-19.