China Warns Of New Covid-19 Variant NeoCov

New Covid-19 Variant NeoCov

New Covid-19 variant NeoCov: Scientist from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Wuhan University noted that NeoCov is found in a population of bats in South Africa and to date spreads exclusively among these animals.

The yet-to-be peer-reviewed study recently posted on the preprint repository BioRxiv shows that NeoCov is closely related to the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), a viral disease first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause diseases ranging from the common cold to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

Scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Wuhan University noted that a new covid-19 variant NeoCov is found in a population of bats in South Africa and to date spreads exclusively among these animals.

“In this study, we unexpectedly found that NeoCoV and its close relative, PDF-2180-CoV, can efficiently use some types of bat Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) and, less favorably, human ACE2 for entry,” the authors of the study noted.

ACE2 is a receptor protein on cells that provides the entry point for the coronavirus to hook into and infect a wide range of cells.

“Our study demonstrates the first case of ACE2 usage in MERS-related viruses, shedding light on a potential bio-safety threat of the human emergence of an ACE2 using “MERS-CoV-2″ with both high fatality and transmission rate,” they said.

The researchers further noted that infection with NeoCov could not be cross-neutralized by antibodies targeting SARS-CoV-2 or MERS-CoV.

“Considering the extensive mutations in the RBD regions of the SARS-CoV-2 variants, especially the heavily mutated Omicron variant, these viruses may hold a latent potential to infect humans through further adaptation,” the authors of the study added.

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