Ferrets cats, civets and dogs are the most susceptible animals to Covid 19 virus after Humans, according to the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG), Barcelona.
PLOS Computational Biology published the findings that found ducks, chickens, mice, rats and pigs having lower or no susceptibility to infection
The study included ten species. Humans, cats, ferrets, civets and dogs had documented cases of infection. However, no reports of infection in other five species – mice, rats, pigs, chickens, and ducks were found, the researchers said.
Senior author and Director of the CRG Luis Serrano said that knowing the animals that are susceptible to the infection helps to prevent building up animal reservoirs from which the coronavirus can re-emerge later. Serrano said that though cats are susceptible to the infection, there are no known cases of infection from them to humans as they don’t co-exist
With humans in the same conditions as other animals, the study used computer modelling. The main point of entry on a cell’s surface is the ACE2 receptor, which binds with the spike protein through a lock-and-key mechanism. The ACE2 receptors in ferrets, dogs, civets and cats have the highest binding affinity to the viral spike protein. Meanwhile fits, mice, chicken and ducks have poor binding energy.
They also tested the different species’ codon adaptation index. This is for seeing how efficient the coronavirus is at commandeering a cell’s machinery once it has entered. Humans, ducks and chickens have the highest codon adaptation index. Considering the binding affinity and codon adaptation index, the study conclude that ferrets, civets, cats and dogs are most susceptible animals to Coronavirus infection.
The researchers also said that they came across identified mutations on the S-protein. They also noted that they are engineering mini proteins from human ACE2 protein for distracting the attention of the virus from entering cells and thus blocking an infection.