GS Paper - 2 (Diseases)

A team of scientists in China's Wuhan has warned of a lethal variant called 'NeoCov' detected in bats triggering widespread panic as some reports suggested that it requires only one mutation to infiltrate human cells. NeoCov is said to carry the mortality rate of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS)-CoV and the high transmission rate of the current SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

What is the NeoCov virus?

  1. NeoCov, which is the deadlier version of coronavirus, was detected in South Africa some time ago. The Wuhan lab scientists have found the presence of this virus in the bats of South Africa.
  2. 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.
  3. The panic set off when the study said that this highly lethal virus has the potential to kill one in every three persons it infects.
  4. The researchers have noted that infection with NeoCov could not be cross-neutralised by antibodies targeting SARS-CoV-2 or MERS-CoV. In its current form, NeoCov does not infect humans.
  5. The WHO has said that it "works closely" with the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) in order to "monitor and respond to the threat of emerging zoonotic viruses".