Wuhan scientists warn of new coronavirus 'NeoCov': Details here
Scientists from China's Wuhan have warned about a new type of coronavirus called NeoCov, discovered in South Africa. The NeoCov has a high infection and death rate, scientists said, according to Russian news agency Sputnik. The novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, was first discovered in Wuhan city. How dangerous is the new coronavirus and can it affect humans? Here's what we know so far.
As per reports, NeoCov is not a new virus. It has been associated with MERS-CoV virus and was first discovered in outbreaks in Middle Eastern countries in 2012 and 2015. It was recently found in a bat population in South Africa. Although it is known to spread among animals, a pre-print study claims it is similar to SARS-CoV-2 and could also infect humans.
Researchers from the Wuhan University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Biophysics said only one mutation is needed for the virus to infiltrate human cells. They further warned that neither antibodies generated due to novel coronavirus infection nor protein molecules produced by people with respiratory diseases or COVID-19 vaccination could offer protection against NeoCov.
According to the researchers, NeoCov possesses the potential combination of the currently spreading SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus' high transmission rate and MERS-CoV's high mortality rate. They said it has a mortality rate of around 33%, meaning one in three infected people die on average.
Meanwhile, Sergey Alkhovsky, head of the biotechnology laboratory at the Gamaleya Center, said the danger posed by NeoCov is hard to estimate. "This is a rather serious, interesting discovery but it's very difficult to estimate the direct danger of this particular strain. We can state that there is a multitude of these strains circulating in the wild and we need to study this multitude."
The worrying news comes as the novel coronavirus continues to infect and kill people around the world. It was discovered in China in late 2019 and the World Health Organization (WHO) declared it a pandemic in March 2020. So far, the disease has infected 36.69 crore people across the globe and claimed the lives of over 56 lakh, according to Worldometer.