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New Covid variant ‘NeoCov’ found, 33% of infected may die

As the world continues to battle against the ongoing pandemic, a group of Chinese scientists from Wuhan have issued a warning against a new variant of coronavirus named NeoCoV, which is said to be more lethal with a higher infection rate, report agencies.

As per a report by the Russian news agency Sputnik – published by several media outlets, the NeoCov variant was discovered in South Africa and it is claimed to be related to the respiratory syndrome MERS-COV.

However, NeoCov is not entirely new because it is linked to the MERS-CoV virus and its outbreaks were previously discovered in the Middle Eastern countries in 2012 and 2015.

Chinese researchers weighed in on the mortality rate stating that ‘one in every three infected person dies’, highlighting the higher death rate.

Analysing the study, the tendency of NeoCoV appears to be similar to the SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19 in humans. Scientists have said that NeoCoV was discovered in a bat population.

However, an unpeered study published on the bioRxiv website, mentioned that NeoCoV and its close relative PDF-2180-CoV can infect humans.

A part of the published report read: “Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and several bat coronaviruses employ Dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP4) as their functional receptors. However, the receptor for NeoCoV, the closest MERS-CoV relative yet discovered in bats, remains enigmatic.”

After a briefing on NeoCoV, experts from the Russian State Virology and Biotechnology Research Center issued a statement on Thursday (January 27).

It stated: “The Vector research centre is aware of the data obtained by Chinese researchers on the NeoCoV coronavirus. At the moment, the issue is not the emergence of a new coronavirus capable of actively spreading among humans.”

“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 favorably, human ACE2 for entry,” it added.

The experts have warned against the potential risks, mentioning that further study and investigation are needed to understand the immune escape.

Of late, coronavirus cases have seen a spike globally after the emergence of the ‘variant of concern’ Omicron.

And more information and inputs are needed to establish a concrete report on NeoCoV.