LUBBOCK, Texas — Evolutionary biologists David Ray and Diana Moreno Santillán, have been given a one-year National Science Foundation grant, to study bats as a possible solution for COVID-19.
While there are still many questions surrounding the origin of COVID-19, Ray said many scientists believe the virus was spread to humans from bats.
Ray said bats contract many viruses, some of which they can fight off, and humans can’t.
“All these different organisms handle getting sick and being exposed to viruses in different way,” Ray said. “And some of them handle it better than we do. So we can learn from them, maybe we can emulate that in our bodies to help us handle that virus better, and maybe not have such a high death rate.”
Moreno said she and the rest of her team will be studying the genomes of different bat species, to better understand the similarities and differences between bats and humans.
“The genome is like a handbook,” Moreno said. “It has all the instructions and the information needed for function.”
Moreno said we shouldn’t be afraid of bats, or blame them for COVID-19. Bats provide plague control, pollination and because of them we have tequila.
“Killing bats is not the answer,” Moreno said. “If we kill bats we’re not going to eradicate any viruses, because viruses are here in nature in many species, not only bats. We have to be grateful for them and fight for their conservation.”