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Fri Jan 28, 2022, 04:41 PM

No, we are not faced with a killer 'NeoCov' virus now; here's why

News of the emergence of a new type of coronavirus, with the potential to kill one of every three infected people, has been circulating on the internet for the last couple of days. It is being claimed that this new virus, called NeoCov, was discovered in South Africa amongst bats and it could possibly enter human cells. The news reports are apparently based on a Chinese research paper that is yet to be peer-reviewed.

However, there is little connection between the paper and the inferences that have been drawn in the news reports. “Totally blown out of proportion,” as one scientist put it.

A NeoCov virus does indeed exist, and it was indeed found in the bat population in South Africa some time ago. It is supposed to have very close resemblance to the coronavirus that caused the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in 2012.

In their study, the Chinese researchers found that the bat receptors used by the NeoCoV were similar to the one that is used by SARS-CoV2 for infecting human beings. Rest everything is an extrapolation from here.

“NeoCov demystified: 1. NeoCov is an old virus closely related to MERS Cov which enter cells via DPP4 receptors 2. What’s new: NeoCov can use ACE2 receptors of bats but they can’t use human ACE2 receptor unless a new mutation occurs. Everything else is hype,” Dr Shashank Joshi, member of Maharashtra State Covid-19 Task Force and chair of International Diabetes Federation, said in a tweet.


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