A study published by scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in July, and reportedly circulating widely on Chinese social media this week, concluded that as many as 20 species of coronavirus are “highly likely” to cause an outbreak among humans.
The study appeared in Emerging Microbes & Infections in July, the South China Morning Post noted on Sunday, but it began making headlines in Chinese-language media as social media users discovered it and began spreading its conclusions online.
The Wuhan scientists documented their study of 40 coronavirus species and identified 20 as “high risk … including 6 of which jumped to human, 3 with evidence of spillover but not to human and 11 without evidence of spillover yet.”
“It is almost certain that there will be future disease emergence and it is highly likely a CoV [coronavirus] disease again,” the study declared. “Thus, the early preparation for the animal CoVs with risk of spillover is important for future disease preparedness, regarding the likely animal origin of SARS, MERS and COVID-19.”
SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) is a coronavirus-caused disease that caused a deadly outbreak originating in China in 2002. MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) is a coronavirus disease first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012. “COVID-19” is the scientific name for the disease caused by the Wuhan coronavirus.