Another MERS variant linked to COVID: Chinese scientists warn of possible variant

Another MERS variant linked to COVID: Chinese scientists warn of possible variant

Reports of another likely variant linked to MERS have come in from China, as countries around the world are dealing with the Omicron variant of the coronaviruses. Chinese scientists warned about NeoCoV, a mutation related to the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome MERS-CoV associated with outbreaks in Middle Eastern countries in 2012 and 2015.

According to Russian website Sputnik, NeoCoV has a high transmission rate and mortality rate.

This new mutation was discovered in a population of bats in South Africa. The variant has been observed to spread only among animals, according to India Today. A new study has highlighted the possibility that it can spread from bats to humans.

The warning about NeoCoV was issued on the back of a peer-reviewed study published on the bioRxiv website. As per the study, researchers found that NeoCoV and its close relative, PDF 2180 CoV, can utilise types of bat Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 ACE 2 and human ACE 2 for entry into the human body.

Scientists have warned that this new coronavirus strain could bind to the human ACE 2 enzyme in a way that is different from what the COVID 19 pathogen does. The virus could have combined the attributes of both MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID 19 infection. It could have a high mortality rate of MER-CoV and a high transmission rate of the current dominant variant of SARS-CoV -- 2.

A report published on the Russian website Sputnik states that the high mortality rate of MERS could mean one in three infected people dying on average. It also shows the potential bio-safety threat of the human emergence of ACE 2 using 'MERS-CoV- 2 with both high mortality and transmission rate.

Experts from the Vector research centre are aware of the data that Chinese researchers obtained regarding the NeoCov coronaviruses. It is not about the emergence of a new coronavirus capable of actively spreading among humans, the Vector Russian State Research Centre of Virology and Biotechnology said in a statement.

There are no cases of people being infected with NeoCoV until now. This mutation can migrate to humans or not, and scientists are urging more research into the matter. The World Health Organisation WHO has yet to issue a statement on the NeoCoV variant.

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