While countries across the world fights with Omicron variant of COVID-19, a new COVID virus ‘NeoCov’ has been making the buzz after Wuhan scientists have claimed that it can ‘kill 1 in 3’ people. For the unversed, scientists from Wuhan were the first ones to have raised concerns around the COVID-19 virus that later went on to hit almost every location on the planet, in multiple ways. Scientists from Wuhan are now claiming that the NeoCov may have a higher transmission rate compared to all the previous variants of COVID-19 and can potentially be even deadlier than all of of them. The news comes at a time when India is showing a seven-day average of 2,93,812 new COVID-19 cases, a number that was only seen during the peak first or the second wave of the pandemic.

Background

In late November 2021, the World Health Organization labelled the now spreading Omicron variant of COVID-19 as the variant of concern. The variant was also said to be incredibly transmissible, though not as lethal as other variants of the virus.

It was first discovered in South Africa, and was initially called the ‘African’ variant of the virus. Come December and January, the variant was discovered in India in cluster of tourists that came from different countries.

A barely visible silver lining in the situation is that the variant is not lethal. However, that may change soon as Wuhan scientists have reported NeoCov a COVID virus that is more lethal than any of the variants discovered as of yet.


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The Facts of the Matter

According to a paper submitted by Wuhan based scientists, NeoCov is a new virus that is related to the Middle East respiratory syndrome. It should be noted that the paper is not yet peer reviewed and was published on bioRxiv website. The scientists in the paper have shown concern that the new virus may have a higher transmission rate compared to COVID-19 strains discovered so far, and it can be deadliest among all.

Discovered in Bat Population, Not a New Discovery

Similar to COVID-19 virus, the NeoCov was also discovered in a bat population. It should be noted that the virus is not a new discovery, and was believed to be a spreader among animals. However, the study claims that the NeoCoV use angiotensin-converting enzyme which helps them to enter a human body.


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Similar Symptoms as SARS-CoV-2

The MERS or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome – CoV virus shows similar symptoms as SARS-CoV-2 did which includes shortness of breathe, fever, cough and more. The MERS-CoV was one of the most prevalent viruses in middle-eastern countries back in 2012 and also emerged once again in 2015.

Higher Fatality Rate of 35% Approx.

The concerning news from the new revelation is the fact that the virus belongs to a lineage C of the Beta-CoV which makes it a greater threat as it poses a higher fatality rate of over 35%. The scientists in its study wrote, “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,” as quoted by a Hindustan Times report.


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What Do the Researchers Say?

The researchers further added, “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.”

 

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