Various strains of coronaviruses have already led to epidemics. Australian scientists have found that the epidemic was already in the East Asian region about 20,000 years ago.
Over the past 20 years, there have been three outbreaks of epidemic severe coronaviruses:
- SARS-CoV caused Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome that originated in China in 2002 and has claimed the lives of more than 800 people;
- MERS-CoV – for Middle East respiratory syndrome, which has killed more than 850 people;
- SARS-CoV-2 – to COVID-19, which killed 3.8 million people.
A new study of the evolution of the human genome showed that another major coronavirus epidemic had broken out thousands of years earlier.
The modern human genome contains information about evolution dating back tens of thousands of years, just as studying the rings of a tree gives us insight into the conditions in which it grew.
Professor Kirill Aleksandrov from the Alliance for Synthetic Biology CSIRO-QUT
In their study, the scientists used data from the 1000 Genomes Project. It is the largest publicly available catalog of common human genetic variation. The researchers looked at the changes in human genes encoding the interacting proteins SARS-CoV-2.
As a result, scientists have found traces of the coronavirus pandemic in the DNA of residents of what is now China, Japan and Vietnam. The new work, published in Current Biology, also describes confirmation of the genetic adaptation of people to coronaviruses in forty-two genes in modern communities.