Saturday Jan 29, 2022
BEIJING: A new type of coronavirus — NeoCov — has been detected in bats of South Africa. Scientists of Wuhan and Chinese researchers carried out research and studied that the virus may pose a threat to humans in the future if it mutates further, NDTV reported.
NeoCov is closely related to the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), a viral disease first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012, according to the yet-to-be peer-reviewed study recently posted on the preprint repository BioRxiv.
The researchers have observed that humans cannot be infected by the recent form of NeoCov, but further mutations may make it potentially harmful.
The authors of the study noted: "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 favourably, human ACE2 for entry," the authors of the study noted.
They further mentioned: "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."
The researchers have also noted that infection with NeoCov could not be cross-neutralised by antibodies targeting SARS-CoV-2 or MERS-CoV.
The authors of the study added: "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."