UPLB ‘virus hunters’ are hunting for bats to prevent next pandemic

Published March 25, 2021, 12:24 PM

by Jaleen Ramos

Researchers from the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) in Laguna are catching and studying bats in hopes of preventing another pandemic similar to COVID-19 which has already claimed the lives of more than two million people worldwide.

Photo from UPLB MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY WEBSITE/ MANILA BULLETIN

The researchers, who call themselves “virus hunters,” are catching bats using nets in Mount Makiling in Laguna, according to a report by GMA News.

The researchers aim to develop a “simulation model” that will be used to give information to prevent another outbreak of bat-derived coronavirus infection in humans from happening again.

The work mostly requires long trips through thick rainforests in the province to catch bats to take swab samples from them before releasing them back into the wild.

The swab samples they collected will be sent to Japan for genetic sequencing, the report added.

“We’re trying to create a model that will predict kung saan bang lugar sa Pilipinas magkakaroon ng next outbreak ng mga infectious diseases na galing sa mga paniki,” Dr. Phillip Alviola, a bat ecologist who leads Filipino experts in a collaborative research with universities in Japan and Vietnam, told GMA.

“Puwede nating ma-preempt ‘yung emergence ng outbreak . Gagawa na tayo ng hakbang (We can preempt the emergence of an outbreak. We will make a way),” he added.

The researchers began their study in late January.

 
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