While people across the world brave yet another wave of Coronavirus-now in its third year- scientists in China have raised alarm over a new virus. Several media outlets reported on Friday that Chinese Researchers have flagged concerns over ‘NeoCoV’, a virus which they claimed has a high death and transmission rate- according to scientists, 1 in 3 infected faces high risk of fatality.
“NeoCov is only one mutation away from becoming dangerous for humans,” the researchers said in a yet-to-be peer-reviewed study posted on the preprint repository BioRxiv.
NeoCoV is related to the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus or MERS-CoV virus that was reported in Saudi Arabia in the year 2012. The study by scientists at China says that bat receptors used by the NeoCoV were similar to the one that is used by SARS-CoV2 for infecting human beings.
What Is MERS-CoV Virus?
MERS-CoV, a zoonotic virus, was first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012. According to the WHO, it is believed that the virus may have originated in bats and transmitted onto camels, however its origin is yet to be clearly understood. Though the virus does not seem to transfer easily from person to person unless there is close contact, its exact transmission route remains unknown.
MERS has been reported in 27 countries including Algeria, Austria, Bahrain, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Saudi Arabia, US, and UK among others. Around 80 per cent cases have been reported by Saudi Arabia. According to the WHO, around 35 per cent of reported patients with MERS-CoV infection have died.
Several scientists and medical experts have called NeoCoV a needless panic. Dr. Shashank Joshi, Chair IDF Southeast Asia and Former Dean Indian College of Physicians, said that NeoCov is an old virus closely related to MERS-CoV which enter cells via DPP4 receptor. He added that what’s new is that it can use ace2 receptors of bats but they can’t use human ace2 receptor unless a new mutation occurs.
Whether the virus detected in the study will pose a risk for humans will require further study,” the health body was quoted as saying by Russian news agency TASS. “Animals, particularly wild animals, are the source of more than 75% of all emerging infectious diseases in humans, many of which are caused by novel viruses. Coronaviruses are often found in animals, including in bats which have been identified as a natural reservoir of many of these viruses,” the health regulator reportedly said.
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