It is well past the time to stop blaming a laboratory in China for the release of SARS-CoV-2. Such fallacies reflect an ignorance of scientific facts, including the recent finding of closely related coronaviruses in bats in Thailand.
The bat CoV RatG13, sampled in 2013 in Yunnan province, shares 96% whole genome identity with SARS-CoV-2, suggesting a likely bat origin of the pandemic virus. To identify other possible sources for highly related viruses, a colony of 300 bats in eastern Thailand, consisting only of one species, Rhinolophus acuminatus, was sampled in June 2020. Thirteen of 100 bat rectal swab samples were positive for a single PCR amplicon with 95.86% sequence identity to SARS-CoV-2 and 96.21% identity to bat CoV-RaTG13. This virus, named RacCS203, appears to be the dominant coronavirus circulating in this bat colony. Phylogenetic analyses indicate that RacCS203 is a new member of the SARS-CoV-2 related CoV lineage (SC2r-CoV).