Sarbecovirus subgenus of Coronaviridae, which includes SARS-CoV-2, caused epidemics tens of thousands of years ago, according to virologists from the University of Oxford, Report informs.
Despite the rapid pace of evolution, the need to be able to infect hosts imposes severe constraints on the development of viruses, according to the Current Biology journal.
Researchers have recreated the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 with these limitations in mind. It turned out that the last common ancestor of SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV-1 existed more than 21,000 years ago, which is 30 times more than previous estimates. Also, these data are consistent with the results of the analysis of the genomic data of ancient people - about 21,000 years ago, people already suffered from the coronavirus epidemic.