No, we are not faced with a killer ‘NeoCov’ virus now; here’s why

A NeoCov virus does indeed exist, and it was indeed found in the bat population in South Africa some time ago.

It is supposed to have very close resemblance to the coronavirus that caused the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in 2012.

News of the emergence of a new type of coronavirus, with the potential to kill one of every three infected people, has been circulating on the internet for the last couple of days. 

It is being claimed that this new virus, called NeoCov, was discovered in South Africa amongst bats and it could possibly enter human cells. 

However, there is little connection between the paper and the inferences that have been drawn in the news reports. “Totally blown out of proportion,” as one scientist put it. 

In their study, the Chinese researchers found that the bat receptors used by the NeoCoV were similar to the one that is used by SARS-CoV2 for infecting human beings. 

NeoCov has been found only in bats and never infected a human being. Its potential to kill one in three people has been drawn from the fact that it is a very close relative of MERS coronavirus. 

“MERS was even deadlier and has gone to humans, but not led to a pandemic. Not everything that jumps becomes a pandemic. 

It is important that we continue surveillance of zoonotic pathogens. Good to be aware but nothing to worry about, contrary to floating headlines 

In fact, had it not been for a mutation D614G in the Sars-CoV-2 virus, the pandemic might have looked very different, Dr Agrawal said 

There is no fresh threat of NeoCov jumping from bats to human beings. The researchers clearly say that in laboratory experiments, the virus was unable to efficiently enter human ACE2 receptors.