Resistant to vaccines and capable of infecting humans, a new coronavirus has been discovered in bats. Scientists warn.
The news is not particularly exciting, but virus hunters have discovered a new type of coronavirus with potentially identical consequences to Sras-CoV-2.
Researchers from Washington State University published the findings of their research on Wednesday in the scientific journal PLoS Pathogens. They discovered a new coronavirus in bats that could be transmitted to humans. The virus would already be able to bypass the immune protection of Covid-19 vaccines.
Similar to SARS-CoV-2, Khosta-2 was actually discovered in 2020 in Russia but it did not seem, so far, to be able to transmit to humans.
The in-depth analysis by Michael Letko’s team indicates that the virus could infect human cells in the laboratory, the first warning sign that it could become a possible threat to public health.
For this, the virus uses the same ACE2 protein as Sras-CoV-2 to enter human cells via the spike protein. And what worries scientists is that Khosta-2 seems to easily infect cells. But above all the antibodies linked to the vaccination did not neutralize the virus at all. And the same was true for antibodies linked to prior Omicron infection…
“Worrying that viruses are circulating with these properties”
“We don’t want to scare anyone into saying this is a completely vaccine-resistant virus,” said Michael Letko. “But it is concerning that there are viruses circulating in nature that have these properties. Namely that they can bind to human receptors and are not so neutralized by current vaccine responses.”
It remained for Professor Letko’s team to determine the dangerousness of the virus. And there, relative good news, Khosta-2 does not seem to have genes that could cause serious disease in humans. A data which could however evolve if the virus were to circulate on a large scale and mix with genes of Sras-CoV-2 in particular…
“When related coronaviruses enter the same animal and the same cells, they can then recombine and produce a new virus”, explains Michael Letko. “The concern is that SARS-CoV-2 could spread to animals infected with something like Khosta-2 and recombine and then infect human cells. They could be resistant to vaccine immunity and also have more virulent factors “What are the chances of that happening? We don’t know. But it could in theory happen in a recombination event.”