Is COVID-19 risk for animals low or high? A study explains

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August 26, 2020 11:16 AM

After the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus which is transmitted from human to human, there have been several cases reported of infection being passed on to animals including dogs, cats and tigers.

India accounted for 8% of the world’s biodiversity, Javadekar said.The report highlighted analysis of 410 species of vertebrates that include fish, birds, reptiles, mammals and amphibians.

Coronavirus in animals: After the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus which is transmitted from human to human, there have been several cases reported of infection being passed on to animals including dogs, cats and tigers. In order to understand this, a comprehensive study has been conducted by researchers where they analysed the COVID-19 risk which can be faced by 410 animal species, reported The Indian Express citing the findings of a genomic study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States. The report highlighted analysis of 410 species of vertebrates that include fish, birds, reptiles, mammals and amphibians.

In several primate species, it has been found that the risk of infection is high with SARS-CoV-2. Even some critically endangered species like Western lowland gorilla, and Sumatran orangutan are highly susceptible to catching COVID-19 infection. The report said that rhesus macaque and chimpanzee also belong to the “very high risk” category. Blue-eyed black lemur and common bottlenose dolphin, on the other hand belong to a “high risk” category. Some pet animals were also reported to have caught infection earlier. However, this study has pointed out that there is medium risk for domesticated cats, sheep and cattle. Others like dogs, pigs and horses have a relatively low risk when it comes to catching the viral infection.

The report said that the findings in the study are based on an analysis of ACE2, which is an enzyme that is even found in humans on cell surface further allowing the SARS-CoV-2 to infect humans. It is to note that there are 25 amino acids of ACE2 in humans that allow the virus to bind with the cell in humans. Taking this into account, the researchers used modelling and evaluated the presence of ACE2 enzymes in other species. All those that matched with all 25 amino acid residues, the researchers predicted the animal to be at the highest risk. All animals having less matches with the human ACE2, the risk of infection was concluded to be low.

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