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Identifying SARS-CoV-2 related coronaviruses in Malayan pangolins


The ongoing outbreak of viral pneumonia in China and beyond is associated with a novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-21. This outbreak has been tentatively associated with a seafood market in Wuhan, China, where the sale of wild animals may be the source of zoonotic infection2. Although bats are likely reservoir hosts for SARS-CoV-2, the identity of any intermediate host that might have facilitated transfer to humans is unknown. Here, we report the identification of SARS-CoV-2-related coronaviruses in Malayan pangolins (Manis javanica) seized in anti-smuggling operations in southern China. Metagenomic sequencing identified pangolin-associated coronaviruses that belong to two sub-lineages of SARS-CoV-2-related coronaviruses, including one that exhibits strong similarity to SARS-CoV-2 in the receptor-binding domain. The discovery of multiple lineages of pangolin coronavirus and their similarity to SARS-CoV-2 suggests that pangolins should be considered as possible hosts in the emergence of novel coronaviruses and should be removed from wet markets to prevent zoonotic transmission.

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Correspondence to Yan-Ling Hu or Yi Guan.

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Supplementary Data

Partial genomic sequence of the Guangdong pangolin coronavirus (GD/P1L) reconstructed from the sequencing data of Liu et al. Viruses 11, (2019). Gaps were placed based on the alignment with BetaCoV/bat/Yunnan/RaTG13/2013.

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Lam, T.T., Shum, M.H., Zhu, H. et al. Identifying SARS-CoV-2 related coronaviruses in Malayan pangolins. Nature (2020).

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