Many-banded krait: the origins of Covid-19

It has been hypothesized that it may be the primordial carrier of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, a pathogen responsible for the disease known as COVID-19

by Lorenzo Ciotti
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Many-banded krait: the origins of Covid-19

Many-banded krait prefers humid plains, agricultural fields, mangrove forests and all land close to water such as ditches, rice fields, rivers and streams. Despite its preferences, however, it is also able to survive in other types of landscape.

This snake can be found up to an altitude of 1,500 meters. It often goes to suburban areas and villages in search of food. From its venom, α-bungarotoxin, one of the most effective antagonists of the acetylcholine receptor, is extracted.

It has been hypothesized that it may be the primordial carrier of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, a pathogen responsible for the disease known as COVID-19, which would then be transmitted by zoonosis to humans who came into indirect contact with this species, giving rise later to the Covid-19 pandemic of 2019-2020.

During the day this snake turns out to be shy and placid, it seems that during the day it almost never bites. At night, however, especially if disturbed, it shows a rather aggressive character. In countries where people usually sleep on the ground, it is not uncommon for the Taiwanese bungaro to approach sleeping people at night and bite them when they unwittingly move.

Many-banded krait: the origins of Covid-19

When they spot danger, these snakes tend to remain motionless, hoping not to be seen, than to flee. The Chinese krait hibernates in the winter season and then resumes its activity in the spring, usually around the month of April.

The venom of the Chinese krait is highly toxic. Its venom has an LD50 of 0.09 mg / kg, making this snake one of the most venomous in the world. It is a neurotoxic poison, that is, it acts on the cells of the nervous system. With one bite it is able to inject into the victim a quantity of poison that varies from 4.6 mg to 19.4 mg.

The death rate after the bite of this snake, without any anti-poison treatment, is 85%. The venom of Bungarus multicinctus can be lethal but, with proper care, there is a good chance of survival.