NeoCov, new type of coronavirus, causes more deaths, says study

A new type of coronavirus called ‘NeoCov’ has been discovered in South Africa, according to scientists from China’s Wuhan, who said that this had high transmission rate and can cause high number of deaths.

NeoCov virus is, however, not new. A report by the Russian news agency Sputnik said that it was associated with MERS-CoV virus, found in Middle Eastern countries during the outbreak of diseases there in 2012 and 2015. The virus is also similar to the SARS-CoV-2, which causes Covid in humans.

NeoCoV was first discovered in bats in South Africa and is largely known to spread among animals only.

Also read: BA.2 sub-variant of Omicron more prevalent in India now

A study not reviewed by peers but published as a preprint on the bioRxiv website said that NeoCoV and its close relative PDF-2180-CoV can infect humans, said the Sputnik report.

Researchers from Wuhan University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Biophysics said NeoCov can infiltrate human cells using just one mutation.

They also said that the virus binds to the ACE2 receptor in human cells differently as compared to the previous coronavirus variants.

Due to this, NeoCov can resist the natural antibodies or protein molecules produced by infected humans. Even the vaccination cannot protect against the virus, they said.

Following a briefing on NeoCoV, Russian experts said potential risks need to be studied and probed further.

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