Chinese scientists based in Wuhan have discovered a novel Coronavirus strain in a colony of bats in South Africa that has the potential to cause more devastation than any other known Coronavirus strain, including the one that started the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new Coronavirus, known as NeoCov, is closely linked to MERS-COV, a Coronavirus that was initially discovered in Saudi Arabia in 2012 and causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, a viral respiratory ailment.
MERS-COV is a member of the Beta-COV lineage C, a family of Coronaviruses with a death rate of 35 percent, which is 23 times greater than COVID-19’s fatality rate of 1.5 percent.
NeoCov currently spreads only among bats, but mutations may be required for it to be transmitted among humans. If so, it may prove to be more contagious and potentially fatal than the combination of all previous strains of coronavirus.
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Immunity generated by previous infections or vaccination with other coronaviruses is also unsuccessful in protecting against NeoCov as new viruses have been shown in laboratory studies to nullify antibodies produced by SARSCOV2 and MERSCOV. It can prove sufficient.
These are the results of a recent study by a group of scientists in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei Province, China, which is believed to have generated SARSCOV2, the coronavirus that causes COVID19 infection. This study has not yet been peer-reviewed and is available on bioRxiv, biological Science’s open access preprint repository.