After scientists from China’s Wuhan expressed concerns over the threat from a newly discovered coronavirus, NeoCov, which is believed to be deadlier than the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19, health experts in India have stated that there is a need for the country to be careful because of the NeoCov virus’ tendency to continually mutate. Meanwhile, researchers across the world have mentioned that the new coronavirus is yet to be studied to learn the threat it poses to humans.
“India as of now hasn’t seen this new variant (NeoCov). We’re careful as the virus is continuously changing, new variants, mutants are emerging; taking precautions to be more vigilant about such cases”, Dr S Kumar, MD, LNJP Hospital, Delhi told ANI.
NeoCoV alert: WHO says more research needed
Stating that experts are aware of the NeoCov virus data, the Russian State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology Vector told news agency Sputnik, that at present there have been no discussions concerning the emergence of a new coronavirus variant that may pose a threat to the human population.
Earlier on Friday, January 28, the World Health Organisation (WHO) also highlighted the fact that, Whether the NeoCov virus detected in the study will pose a risk for humans or not would require further research.
As stated by the WHO, wild animals were the source of 75% of infectious diseases in humans. “Coronaviruses are often found in animals, including in bats which have been identified as a natural reservoir of many of these viruses,” WHO said.
Thanking the Chinese researchers for sharing their research in preprint, the global body mentioned that it is working actively to learn more about such emerging zoonotic viruses.
Chinese scientists raises NeoCov concerns
The heightened discussion over NeoCov, which is a close relative of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV), emerged when the Chinese scientists pointed out that NeoCov was discovered in a bat population in South Africa and is currently spreading only among animals.
Responding to the latent potential of the virus to mutate and penetrate the human population, scientists have claimed, “Just one mutation is enough for the virus to be able to infiltrate human cells”. It is further mentioned that NeoCov’s infection could not be cross-neutralized by antibodies targeting MERS-CoV or SARS-CoV-2.