As the world is already witnessing the fast-spreading Omicron variant among its different parts, another variant of the Coronavirus -NeoCoV- has created a shock among people after scientists from Wuhan in China, where the Covid-19 was first discovered in 2019, have raised their concern that this new variant may have a much higher rate of transmission compared to previous variants and could potentially be the deadliest of them all.
A research paper submitted by Wuhan scientists states that NeoCov is related to the Middle East respiratory syndrome or MERS coronavirus. The paper was published on the bioRxiv website and is yet to be peer-reviewed. This new strain was discovered in a bat population in South Africa and was found to be spreading only among animals. However, it has now been found that NeoCov and PDF-2180-CoV use some types of angiotensin-converting enzyme, including bat ACE2 and human ACE2 for entry.
In terms of symptoms like fever, cough, and shortness of breath the MERS-CoV virus is similar to SARS-CoV-2. It was prevalent in the middle-eastern countries in 2012 and 2015. Many people had died due to the infection. The research said MERS-CoV belongs to the lineage C of Beta-CoV (Merbecoviruses), which poses a great threat considering its high case-fatality rate of approximately 35 percent.
“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 stated.
“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 scientists wrote in the study.