Study Finds New Covid-like Virus In Russian Bats, Can Infect Humans

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Study Finds New Covid-like Virus In Russian Bats, Can Infect Humans

| Updated: September 26, 2022 17:36

A new S-CoV-2-like virus discovered in Russian bats is capable of infecting humans. What is more worrying is that it is apparently resistant to current COVID-19 vaccines, according to a study.

A team led by Washington State University (WSU) researchers discovered spike proteins from the bat virus, named Khosta-2. The virus not only has the potential to infect human cells but is also found resistant to both antibody therapies and blood serum from people vaccinated against S-CoV-2.

The new virus Khosta-2 is also similar to the dreaded S-CoV-2, novel coronavirus which brought the world to a standstill in the sense that they both belong to the same coronavirus subclass known as sarbecoviruses. They both are viruses with spike protein which is used to enter and infect human cells.

The discovery of Khosta-2 is published in the journal PLoS Pathogens. It underlines the importance of developing vaccines to protect against the whole gamut of sarbecoviruses instead of focusing on just known variants of S-CoV-2.

Michael Letko, the study’s corresponding author said “Our findings show that sarbecoviruses circulating in wildlife outside of Asia – even in places like western Russia, where the Khosta-2 virus was discovered – pose a threat to global health and ongoing vaccine campaigns against S-CoV-2”

The scientists involved with the discovery pointed out that many of our current vaccines are designed to specific viruses that are known to infect human cells or that appear to pose the greatest risk of infecting us, however the work to develop a vaccine that not only protects against the next variant of S-2, but also protects us against sarbecoviruses, in general, has started by certain groups.

Just like other hundreds of sarbecoviruses viruses that have been discovered in recent years which are found to not be capable of infecting human cells, initially, it was thought that the hosta-1 and Khosta-2 viruses were thought to be posing no threat to humans.

Investigating further however revealed surprising details to the researchers. It taught them new spheres about the origin and the regions when they learnt that the viruses could infect human cells.

The strange virus was discovered in Russian bats in late 2020. It still escaped further probe by the researchers initially because though it was genetically similar to S-CoV-2, it did not look like one.

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