The study, backed by the Chinese government, led to the discovery of eight new viruses, with one related to the coronavirus family. The scientists collected at least 700 samples from rodents on the island located off China's southern coast.
Health experts have warned that these new viruses can potentially infect humans if they cross the species barrier, prompting calls for further study on their impact on humans. But people are worried that further testing will result in another pandemic.
The findings were published in the journal Virologica Sinica, an affiliate of the Chinese Society for Microbiology (CSM).
CSM is associated with the China Association of Science and Technology and is under the administrative supervision of China's Ministry of Civil Affairs.
Virologica Sinica's editor, Dr. Shi Zhengli, is a renowned scientist who works at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV). The editorial board of the journal also includes several academics with ties to the controversial WIV. Virologica Sinica previously reported that new virus samples from bats in Hainan supported the theory that COVID-19 was not engineered in a lab. However, the claim was discredited by independent researchers.
For the recent study, researchers analyzed 682 samples, both anal and throat swabs, taken from different rodents in Hainan between 2017 and 2021.
The samples were then sent for lab analysis, which identified the following new viruses:
The research team emphasized the importance of the newly discovered pestiviruses and parvoviruses found in specific rat species that were not previously known to carry such pathogens.
Hainan, which has a population of around nine million, is separated from mainland China. Researchers said other yet-to-be-discovered viruses might be present in similar regions worldwide.
"The results expand our knowledge of viral classification and host range and suggest there are highly diverse, undiscovered viruses that have evolved independently in their unique wildlife hosts in inaccessible areas," said the researchers.
They also warned that if these viruses breach the host barrier, there is a potential for zoonosis or a disease or infection that is naturally transmissible from vertebrate animals to humans.
The researchers emphasized the importance of evaluating the impact of these new viruses on humans and animals in upcoming studies.
Rodents pose a considerable zoonotic threat because of their wide distribution, species diversity, strong reproductive capability and their habit of living in densely populated, humid areas, particularly in regions like central and southern China. (Related: Dr. Stella Immanuel warns of UNLIMITED WARFARE against humanity through mRNA technology.)
COVID-19 allegedly originated from an animal, but many plausible theories suggest that it may have resulted from lab experiments in Wuhan. According to some theories, Wuhan's Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, where various live animals were sold, was the potential infection point.
Some experts have expressed their concern that lab experiments on high-risk pathogens in populated areas could lead to new pandemics, like the recent discovery of viruses in Hainan.
On the other hand, others insist that COVID-19 originally came from an animal, most likely a bat. However, according to many experts, there is also proof suggesting that experiments conducted in Wuhan may have sparked its spread among people.
Shi herself was once concerned that COVID-19 may have leaked from inside the Wuhan lab, her colleagues revealed.
The "lab leak theory" suggests that scientists at the WIV were experimenting with COVID-19 samples collected from the wild when the virus accidentally leaked from the lab, infecting citizens of the city and, eventually, the world.
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