A news that raises the alarm about a new variant of Sars-Cov-2, known as NeoCov. It would have been recently discovered by a team of Chinese scientists in bats and in case of mutation it could make the transition of species and infect humans. If this information seems contradictory to you, considering that the coronavirus responsible for the Covid infection is already circulating among humans, you will have understood that it is a hoax. At least partially, because the NeoCov exists really. But the news that is circulating these days is not only correct.
The NeoCov is actually a type of coronavirus which scientists are studying with legitimate concern. It has nothing to do with Sars-Cov-2, even if it is part of the same category of pathogens. It actually has many traits in common with Mers-Cov, the virus responsible for Mersthe Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome which caused an epidemic in 2012, with outbreaks around the world and a high death rate, particularly in the Middle East.
Already since 2013 the NeoCov is a observed special of the scientific community, and has therefore not been discovered recently. It has been detected, like so many other coronaviruses, in bats. And to be precise in the fecal matter of a South African population of the species neoromicia capensis. Its genome has already been fully sequenced, and its nucleotides have shown compatibility of the85% with the Mers-Cov.
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Can the NeoCov infect humans? Is it really dangerous for us?
Considering the danger of MERS, at least in countries where there are no adequate health protocols for the care of patients who contract it, with a mortality average of 35%, should we expect the NeoCov virus to also cause a similar disease in humans?
From the research conducted to date they have not emerged infections in man or in animals other than bats. So the NeoCov has not, at least for the moment, made the dreaded leap of species. Based on the data collected, it also says that it could do so in the next period is pure speculation: there are no predictive signals in this sense, as explained to Reuters the doctor Manuela Zingl of the Charité Hospital in Berlin, one of the most important university polyclinics in Europe.
Alert on the NeoCov for the leap of species: what it means
Despite the great similarities between the two pathogens, Mers-Cov and NeoCov infect their hosts differently. The first uses receptors Dpp4 to bind to human cells, while the second to receptors Ace2 to bind to bat cells.
Although the Ace2 protein is the gateway for Sars-Cov-2 to enter our body, the researchers of theChinese Academy of Sciences andWuhan University found that the NeoCov does not bind to the human one. The study, available on the platform bioRxiv and still under review by the scientific community, it nevertheless issues a warning.
“The spillover“, That is the leap of species, “In this virus group it needs to be monitored closely”, and therefore there is a possibility that it will happen. However, this would not automatically translate into a similar or more lethal infection than MERS and Covid, nor into an equally transmissible disease. So, as has often happened in the last two years, some partially true news was used to make it easy alarmism in the media, riding the wave of the pandemic and exploiting the fears of readers and web users.
Today, although the front pages of the newspapers are rightly talking about very serious issues concerning the fate of the world, we must instead still be careful of Covid, as we have explained to you here. And speaking of the coronavirus responsible for the pandemic, do you know why it does not cause disease in bats? Here all the reasons. Furthermore, on Sars-Cov-2, new data have emerged: this is how the Covid virus originated in all probability.