One of the theories explaining the origin of the coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 disease is that it came from bats. Therefore, we shouldn’t be surprised if the animals develop another type of coronavirus that may start spreading to humans at some point.
According to NDTV.com, researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Wuhan University now raise awareness about a new type of coronavirus that emerged in bats. To be more precise, a population of bats from South Africa are the ones carrying the new form of coronavirus that’s known as NeoCov.
NeoCov doesn’t pose a threat to humans for now
The newfound coronavirus NeoCov that’s found in bats can spread exclusively among these animals and can’t pose a threat to humans in its current form. However, researchers don’t \rule out the possibility that humans might deal with the new coronavirus in the future if it mutates further. NeoCov is closely related to MERS, the Middle East respiratory syndrome.
The new study’s authors explained, as quoted by NDTV.com:
In this study, we unexpectedly found that NeoCoV and its close relative, PDF-2180-CoV, can efficiently use some types of bat Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) and, less favourably, human ACE2 for entry.
Other official statements write, as the same source quotes:
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.
Considering the extensive mutations in the RBD regions of the SARS-CoV-2 variants, especially the heavily mutated Omicron variant, these viruses may hold a latent potential to infect humans through further adaptation
The new study is yet to be peer-reviewed, and it was posted on the preprint repository BioRxiv.