Linfa Wang is a virologist at Duke National University of Singapore.Prof Patrick Casey, senior Vice-Dean of Research at Duke-NUS, hailed the “early identification of the filovirus from Rousettus bats by Prof Wang and researchers in China”.Dr. Wang is the director of the Programme in Emerging Infectious Diseases at Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore.Wang is an expert in emerging zoonotic diseases, or diseases hosted in animals that spread to humans.Dr. Wang serves on multiple World Health Organization committees focused on COVID-19 and is the principal investigator of the collaboration.Dr. Wang, who sequenced and named Australia's bat-borne Hendra virus more than 25 years ago, has obtained multiple isolates of the virus, and is focused on studying serology and cross-reactivity and contamination on diagnostics.
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How big a threat is the new coronavirus linked to a pneumonia outbreak in China? He notes that many people initially infected in this outbreak had visited a live animal market in Wuhan.
Mengla virus, from the Rousettus bat in Yunnan Province, China, is “evolutionarily closely related to Ebola virus and Marburg virus,” said Professor Linfa Wang, whose nickname is “Batman”. Prof Wang said that studying the geographic distribution of such bat-borne viruses was “very important” to assess the risk to humans. The findings could also help prevent an outbreak “as this type of infectious disease can affect the general public without warning with devastating consequences,” he added. This new bat-borne virus “sits in between Ebola virus and Marburg virus on the evolutionary tree.”
Robert Garry and fellow researchers have hypothesized that SARS-CoV-2 could be a blend of viruses from bats and another animal. So, why are bats such good hosts for viruses? The Rabies virus, the Marburg virus, the Hendra and Nipah viruses all find a natural reservoir in bats, meaning those viruses live in bats without harming them. The SARS virus originates in bats, along with other coronaviruses.