Rodents are asymptomatic carriers of the virus, study finds

Since the start of the pandemic, animals are also affected by the
Covid-19. Some develop symptoms and some do not. This is the case with rodents, which even seem perfectly immune to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. And the evolution of this species of mammals would have something to do with it according to a study published Friday by Sean King and Mona Singh, two
researchers in Molecular Biology and Integrative Genomics at Princeton, reports Slate.

During their evolution, the different mammals would have been exposed to the coronavirus in different ways. For their part, rodents have acquired tolerance or even resistance to pathogens. For the purposes of their study, King and Singh performed an evolutionary analysis, through the species of certain mammals, of ACE2 receptors. These are used by SARS viruses to enter mammalian cells.

They could transmit viruses that have not yet been discovered

Scientists then determined that the primates had very stable amino acid sequences at the sites of the ACE2 receptor, known to bind to SARS viruses. Which makes them vulnerable to forms of coronavirus. Rodents, on the other hand, showed greater diversity and a faster rate of evolution. Which means that, unlike primates, mammals have clearly been exposed to repeated coronavirus infections during their evolution.

But it also means that some rodents could be asymptomatic carriers of viruses that have yet to be discovered. Thanks to this genetic immunity, rodents could well be reservoirs of viruses potentially dangerous for humans, according to the researchers.

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