TUCSON (KVOA) - Researchers at the University of Arizona believe they might have discovered a Coronavirus epidemic 20,000 years ago.
This new research indicates that an ancient epidemic broke out in east Asia.
Researchers were able to learn this because of the genetic makeup of people from that area.
The research focuses on how humans and other vertebrates have adapted in response to ancient epidemics.
David Enard works as an assistant professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. His research group looked at the genomes of 2,500 modern humans from 26 worldwide populations.
Enard and his research group were able to find 42 different human gene viral interacting proteins that led them to believe east Asian people experienced a Coronavirus-induced disease similar to COVID-19.
He said they realized that a lot of natural selection has happened and they can detect that because of how people have adapted to ancient viruses.
"What is interesting, is that if we are able to detect ancient virus, ancient viral epidemics like this, so it could be the case for coronavirus but it could be the case for other viruses," said Enard. "It means that we could potentially better credit, which new viruses, we are going to find in the world, even before they started infecting any human population. We're looking at what happened with viruses in the past, to better predict what could happen in the future."
Physiological and immunological adaptations have allowed humans to survive new viruses and other health-related threats for thousands of years.
Studies like this allow researchers to develop vaccines, drugs, and other diagnostics to be better prepared for what could come in the future.