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NeoCov, the new coronavirus raising concerns; scientists warn of higher transmission, mortality rate

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Even as the world continues to grapple with the novel coronavirus, scientists in Wuhan in China have warned of ‘NeoCov’, a new type of coronavirus that may have high transmission and mortality rate.

According to scientists, NeoCov is related to the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome or MERS-coronavirus.

It was first found in bat population in South Africa and has been known only to spread among animals so far. In their paper, the Chinese scientists have said that “NeoCoV and its close relative PDF-2180-CoV can efficiently use some types of Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), and less favourably, human ACE2 for entry’.

The new virus could bind to ACE2 receptor differently and carry a combined high mortality rate of MERS-CoV and high transmission rate of SARS-CoV2, scientists have warned.

This could lead to death of one in three infected persons on an average, as per a report.

“Immunity triggered by prior infection or vaccination of other coronaviruses might be inadequate to protect humans from NeoCoV and PDF-2180-CoV infections because neither SARS-CoV-2 anti-sera nor ten tested anti-MERS-CoV nanobodies can cross-inhibit the infection caused by these two viruses,” the researchers have said in their paper, yet to be peer-reviewed, published on bioRxiv website.

Different receptor usage can affect the transmission rate of the viruses, they said.

The “unexpected ACE2 usage of these MERS-CoV close relatives highlights a latent biosafety risk, considering a combination of two potentially damaging features of high fatality…”.

The researchers added that their studies show that “the current Covid-19 vaccinations are inadequate to protect humans from any eventuality of the infections caused by these viruses”.

 

 

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