Coronaviruses have been around longer than you think: Study
Humanity could have been implicated in a coronavirus outbreak more than 20,000 years ago, according to a new study.
Scientists at the Australian National University discovered that the coronavirus – a family of viruses that includes COVID-19, SARS, and MERS, or the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome – left some kind of historical marker in the human genome.
After examining the genomes of more than 2,500 people from 26 countries, the researchers found evidence that the coronavirus – which needs to attach to certain proteins in the body in order to replicate – was present and forced the genes themselves to adapt.
Signs that genes were forced to adapt after encountering coronaviruses were found in just five populations, all of which are from East Asia, according to the study.
This suggests that the ancestors of today’s people in East Asia were first exposed to the disease around 25,000 years ago, according to the study.
The research was published last week in the peer-reviewed journal Current Biology.