While the world scrabbles around looking for a cure for the deadly coronavirus, scientists have found another virus.
Unlike the former which started in China, this new one comes from an artificial lake in Brazil.
Independent reports that this virus named “Yaravirus” was found in an amoebae. It was named after “Yara” or “Iara,” which means ‘mother of waters’ – a mythical siren/mermaid figure from Brazilian mythology who would lure sailors underwater.
Scientists are saying that this virus is mysterious because it has genes that no one has seen before.
Reporting the new discovery in bioRxiv, a biological sciences website, the researchers wrote: “We report the discovery of Yaravirus, a new lineage of amoebal virus with a puzzling origin and phylogeny.”
According to Jônatas Abrahão, senior author and a virologist at the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil, “It was really a big surprise since so far we only know giant viruses infecting amoebas, not small viruses.”
He revealed that they searched for the Yaravirus’ gene signature in thousands of environmental genomic data and found nothing, “indicating how rare this virus is.”
While they are still researching the virus, they have found out that it infects amoebas like giant viruses do.
“This is one of the reasons why this new virus is so intriguing and we claim that it challenges the classification of DNA viruses,” Abrahão said.
In order to figure out the origin, he said, “It would be necessary to isolate new viruses similar to Yaravirus to improve our analysis and try to define their origin.”
Is there a link between the coronavirus and yaravirus?
Considering the fact that this new discovery comes so soon after the coronavirus was discovered, it is important to know that the Yaravirus does not infect human cells.
“If we consider all known viruses by now, we can say that most of them do not represent any threat for our health,” Abrahão said.
So far, there are 45,204 confirmed cases of the deadly coronavirus and 1,118 deaths.
Researchers from around the world are meeting at @WHO for a research & innovation forum on #COVID19. The first vaccine could be ready in 18 months, In the meantime, there's a lot we can do to prevent transmission and prepare for any further spread.https://t.co/7uXYj2KxF3— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) February 11, 2020
He added that this latest find shows “we know only a very small fraction of this diversity” of viruses present on our planet. “There is still a lot to explore,” Abrahão said.