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NeoCov

Date: 31 January 2022 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

A group of Chinese researchers have published a study on a new Coronavirus category known as NeoCov.

 

Background

The Coronavirus outbreak in China in late 2019, which is still causing havoc, has worried large sections of public about a new virus.

 

Details

  • First identified in 2011, NeoCov is a Coronavirus found in bat species called Neoromicia. This species is distributed in the Afro-Malagasy region and commonly known as aloe bats.

  • NeoCov is the closest relative of MERS-CoV as it shares 85% similarity to MERS-CoV in the genome sequence.

 

Infection in humans

The current form of the virus cannot interact with human receptors. Thus far it has not infected anyone or has caused any death.

 

Importance of study

  • Eventhough similar to MERS-CoV, both virus use different receptors for entering cells. Its way of interacting with ACE2 receptor is different.

  • The virus can get the capability to infect humans if specific mutations are artificially created in the receptor-binding domain.

 

Future infections

  • The future spillover events can occur as human interaction with animals increase due to expansion of habitat.

  • Regular monitoring should be carried out of the Coronavirus species to find clues of zoonosis and also ways to prevent modification in receptor proteins.

 

Coronavirus

  • Coronavirus is a family of virus that can infect animals and humans. The alpha and beta categories commonly infect mammals such as bats and humans.

  • The gamma and delta category primarily impacts birds. Eventhough bats are reservoirs of virus, spill over to other species rarely occurs.

  • Human coronaviruses such as OC43, HKU1, 229E, and NL63 cause mild illness whereas MERS and SARS are serious.

  • The SARS-CoV-2, responsible for Covid-19, is the seventh category of Coronavirus that causes severe infections in humans.

 

MERS

  • The Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus infected humans through dromedary camels in 2012.

  • It has mainly infected people in Middle East, Africa and South Asia. It has a fatality rate of 35%.

 

Infection mechanism

  • A key part of virus, known as its receptor-binding domain, will determine the type of host receptor the virus will use and the host that it will be able to infect.

  • Coronavirus currently uses 4 types of receptors, including ACE2.  SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 use ACE2 whereas MERS-CoV uses DPP4.

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