New Coronavirus Variant Has 30% Mortality Rate: What Is The Truth? Myths Debunked
Scientists from China’s Wuhan, the epicentre of the ongoing pandemic, have raised alarms over a new type of coronavirus ‘NeoCov’.
They say that it has a high death and transmission rate and was known to only spread in animals till now.
What It Isn’t
NeoCoV is NOT a new variant of the coronavirus that causes Covid-19.
It is the closest relative of the Middle East respiratory syndrome MERS-coronavirus with 85% similarity.
It caused outbreaks in Middle Eastern countries in 2012 and 2015.
NeoCoV was discovered in a bat population in South Africa and was initially thought to spread only among animals.
Is It Dangerous?
But a new unpeered study published on the bioRxiv website claims that it can infect humans as well.
The paper is not yet peer-reviewed so it hasn’t yet undergone the rigorous process involving neutral experts analysing the veracity of the findings.
Research findings state that the novel coronavirus is dangerous because it binds to the ACE2 receptor differently than the coronavirus pathogen.
ACE2 is a receptor protein on cells which the coronavirus uses as an entry point to hook into and infect a wide range of cells.
As a result, neither antibodies nor protein molecules produced by infected or immunised people can protect against NeoCoV.
Chinese researchers say that NeoCoV carries the potential combination of MERS-high CoV’s mortality rate and Covid-19’s high transmission rate.
MERS-high CoV kills one in every three infected people on average.
The 35% estimated mortality rate may be overestimated since disease surveillance systems could have overlooked milder cases of MERS-CoV.
Only Theory For Now
There is no cause for concern yet, since the research paper only hypothesises its ability to infect humans which it can only do if it undergoes a particular type of mutation.
So NeoCoV’s ability to infect humans is only a theory as of now.
Director of Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology Dr Anurag Agrawal said that MERS was deadlier than Covid but it didn’t result in a pandemic.
“Not everything that jumps becomes a pandemic”, he said and added that awareness is good but nothing to panic over, contrary to floating headlines.
Lab Findings Vs Real Life Settings
In fact, the present pandemic began due to a mutation in the Sars-CoV-2 virus called D614G.
Had this not happened, there wouldn’t have been a pandemic to talk about.
There is no fresh threat of NeoCov jumping from bats to human beings.
It was observed in laboratory experiments that the virus was unable to efficiently enter human ACE2 receptors.
They did narrow down on proteins which, through a single mutation, may transmit the virus to humans.
But again, it happened in a laboratory experiment.