NeoCov has been found to be closely related to the virus that caused the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). (Representational image)
Chinese researchers, in a study that is yet to be peer-reviewed, have said that a NeoCov, a type of coronavirus detected in bats in South Africa, could pose a danger to humans if it mutates further.
The study, available on preprint repository BioRxiv, has found that NeoCov resembles the virus that caused the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).
The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that further studies are need to ascertain whether the NeoCov will pose a risk to humans, Russia’s TASS news agency reported.
WHO added that it works closely with other agencies like the World Organization for Animal Health to respond to the dangers of “emerging zoonotic viruses”, according to TASS.
Meanwhile, in India, health experts say that there is no new risk of NeoCov jumping from animals to humans.
“The chances of it jumping I would say is 0.001, which statistically means unlikely,” Dr Jayprakash Muliyil, chairperson of the National Institute of Epidemiology’s Scientific Advisory Committee told The Indian Express. “We live with so many pathogens; there is no need to worry about it. It is good for those who want to scare people.”
Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology Director Anurag Agrawal told the newspaper that it is important to continue monitoring pathogens.
“Good to be aware but nothing to worry about, contrary to floating headlines,” he added.
Dr Shashank Joshi, a member of Maharashtra’s COVID-19 task force, tweeted: “NeoCov is an old virus closely related to MERS Cov which enter cells via DPP4 receptors. 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.”