UAA researchers study innocuous strains of coronavirus found in Alaska

Published: Jan. 30, 2020 at 6:16 PM AKST
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Researchers from the University of Alaska Anchorage are currently studying innocuous strains of coronavirus found in Alaska.

The two strains they are studying come from bats around the state. They are far less virulent than strains that come from Wuhan, according to the researchers.

"As far as we're concerned in Alaska, coronaviruses in bats, we just shouldn't be worried about it," said graduate student William George.

For George's grad project, he is researching the strains of coronavirus in Alaska.

"We're trying to understand how that fits in coronavirus all over the world including, for example, the ones in China," said Eric Bortz, an associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at UAA.

"It puts perspective on your project as to why you’re doing virus surveillance and things like that," George said.

According to Bortz, the coronavirus from Wuhan currently has no effective vaccine, and humans do not have immunity.

"Should Alaskans be worried?" Bortz asked. "Unless you’re a virologist like us, I wouldn’t lose sleep over it right now. We’re trying to get ahead of the game."

Bortz does say the coronavirus is incredibly concerning, especially to a scientist studying viruses. He recommends keeping up good hygiene and staying healthy.

"When you hear about the outbreak, it brings perspective as to how this research is important," George said.

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