SARS-CoV-2 may be able to infect a significant number of mammals


NEW research suggests that a significant number of mammals could be susceptible to infection with SARS-CoV-2.
A new study has found that SARS-CoV-2 could theoretically infect a large number of mammals.
The research identifies important animal species that should be the focus of future real-world observations.
Central to scientific efforts to reduce the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is the development of a vaccine.
Suppose an effective vaccine can be developed and made widely available to a significant number of people worldwide. In that case, virus transmission rates should become low enough to allow countries to begin relaxing emergency measures put in place to reduce the spread of the virus.
However, while no doubt a crucial part of the puzzle, humans are not the only species affected by SARS-CoV-2.
As a type of coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2 emerged from a non-human animal — thought possibly to be a horseshoe bat — via an intermediary non-human animal that is yet to be determined.
Therefore, it should come as no surprise that non-human animals are also susceptible to the virus.
However, what is currently unknown is which types of animals are susceptible, how susceptible they are, and how likely they are to transmit the virus.
This is important because if the virus can infect other non-human animals, such as pets or livestock, then people who regularly come into contact with these animals may be able to transmit the virus to them, and vice versa.
There are already reports of infections in domestic cats, as well as lions and tigers. Meanwhile, laboratory studies of animal cells suggest that a broad range of animals could host the virus.
By better understanding which animals are susceptible to the virus, hygiene practices can be put in place to minimize the risks of transmission to humans, as well as damage to livestock and other animals.
To identify which species could be susceptible to the virus — and therefore should be the focus of future research — the researchers behind the present study developed a computer modeling system.
SARS-CoV-2 infects a host cell by attaching to ACE2 proteins. It is very effective at this in humans. As well as ACE2 proteins, the transmembrane serine protease TMPRSS2 is central to the virus’s ability to infect a host cell.
However, the ACE2 and TMPRSS2 proteins vary between species, so the virus may be able to infect non-human animal cells.