American scientists have discovered a new virus in bats that could be bad news for humans. A new virus called Khosta-2 cannot just infect human cells, it is also resistant to current vaccines. Research published in the journal PLOS Pathogens says the virus is resistant to the antibodies of people vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, Newsweek reports.
The virus was first discovered in bats in Russia in 2020, but at that time scientists did not think that the virus posed a threat to humans. After much careful research by scientists, they discovered that the virus can infect human cells and can become a potential threat to public health.
What is Khosta-2?
Sarbekovirus, to which Khosta-2 and SARS-CoV-2 belong, is a subset of the coronaviruses.
According to a report in Time magazine, a related virus also found in Russian bats, Khosta-1, could not easily enter human cells, but Khosta-2 could. Khosta-2 attaches to the same protein, ACE2, that SARS-CoV-2 uses to penetrate human cells. The scientist says that receptors on human cells are the way viruses enter cells. If the virus cannot enter the door, it cannot enter the cell and it is difficult to pinpoint any type of infection. The new virus can easily affect human cells. Michael Letko, author of the study, says that people vaccinated against Covid-19 cannot neutralize the virus, and neither do people who recovered from an Omicron infection.
However, scientists say that, like the Omicron SARS-CoV-2 variant, this virus lacks genes that can cause serious disease in humans. But eventually it could change if mixed with SARS-CoV-2 genes.
How does it spread?
Khosta-2 circulates among wild animals such as bats, pangolins, raccoon dogs, and palm civets. Letko told Newsweek it was hard to say at this stage if the Khosta-2 could trigger an epidemic or even a pandemic.
Scientists warn that if Khosta-2 is combined with SARS-CoV-2, it may have more infectious agents. “The chances that SARS-CoV-2 will ever” meet Khosta-2 in nature are certainly very small, but there have been an increasing number of reports describing SARS-CoV-2 spreading back into the wild – like a white-tailed deer. to the East Coast of the United States, “Letko said.
“Right now there are groups that are trying to come up with a vaccine that not only protects against the next variant SARS-2 (SARS-CoV-2), but actually protects us against sarbecoviruses in general,” Letko said.
He added: “Unfortunately, many of our current vaccines have been designed [for] certain viruses that we know infect human cells or those that appear to pose the greatest risk of infecting us. But it’s a list that keeps changing. We need to expand the design of these vaccines to protect against all sarbecoviruses, ‘added Letko.
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The virus lacks some genes that are believed to be involved in pathogenesis – that is, making it into disease – in humans.