Writes Matt Ridley on the Bats Behind The Pandemic (WSJ, April 9, 2020):
RaTG13 is the name, rank and serial number of an individual horseshoe bat of the species Rhinolophus affinis, or rather of a sample of its feces collected in 2013 in a cave in Yunnan, China. The sample was collected by hazmat-clad scientists from the Institute of Virology in Wuhan that year. Stored away and forgotten until January this year, the sample from the horseshoe bat contains the virus that causes Covid-19.
In a paper published in February last year, Patrick Woo and colleagues at Hong Kong University surveyed the coronaviruses found in bats and came to a prescient conclusion: “Bat–animal and bat–human interactions, such as the presence of live bats in wildlife wet markets and restaurants in Southern China, are important for interspecies transmission of [coronaviruses] and may lead to devastating global outbreaks.”