by Jonathan Latham, PhD and Allison Wilson, PhD
One of the very earliest scientific papers from the COVID-19 pandemic era now has over 11,000 citations. Appearing in the scientific journal Nature on February 3rd 2020, Zhou et al., 2020 reported the genome sequence of a novel coronavirus isolated from patients with atypical pneumonia in Wuhan, China. Its senior author was leading coronavirus researcher Zheng-li Shi of the Wuhan Institute of Virology (the WIV). Along with what we now call SARS-CoV-2, her paper also reported the genome sequence of a closely related (96.2% identical) bat virus. The authors called this virus RaTG13. To this day RaTG13 is still the closest known viral genome by far to SARS-CoV-2.
RaTG13 came from the freezers of the WIV.More