As the world recuperates from the two years of a deadly pandemic, another coronavirus outbreak is “highly likely” to happen in future, warned China’s “batwoman” Shi Zhengli. In a paper written with her colleagues, Shi warned that the world must be prepared for another Covid-19-like disease because “if a coronavirus caused diseases to emerge before, there is a high chance it will cause future outbreaks”, reported South China Morning Post.
Known for her research into viruses that leap from animals, especially bats, to humans, Shi gained the nickname of “batwoman”.
Shi’s team from the Wuhan Institute of Virology evaluated the 40 coronavirus species with the risk of human spillover and rated half of them as “highly risky” out of which six have already been known to have caused disease infecting humans, according to the report.
A further three species have caused disease or infected other animal species.
“It is almost certain that there will be future disease emergence and it is highly likely a [coronavirus] disease again,” the study warned.
According to the report, the paper published in the English-language journal Emerging Microbes & Infections in July was based on an analysis of viral traits, including population, genetic diversity, host species and any previous history of zoonosis – diseases that jump from animals to humans.
Although, it gained attention on Chinese social media this month partly because the study was not written in Chinese.
However, a scientist from the country’s Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said that it also reflected a desire to move on from the subject after the abrupt reversal of China’s zero-Covid policies.
“Sometimes in private conversations, when talking with other public health scholars, we have noticed that intentionally or unintentionally, Chinese authorities are downplaying Covid-19, and some cities have stopped releasing infection data,” he said, the report said.