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Khosta-2, new COVID-like virus found that could infect humans: Here's what you should know

DNA logo DNA 29-09-2022 (DNA Web Desk)
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According to a study, a new S-CoV-2-like virus detected in Russian bats can infect people and is immune to the COVID-19 vaccinations currently available. Researchers at Washington State University (WSU) in the US discovered spike proteins from the Khosta-2 bat virus, which can infect human cells and is resistant to both antibody treatments and blood serum from people who have received the S-CoV-2 vaccine.

The researchers noted that when the Khosta-1 and Khosta-2 viruses were first identified in Russian bats in late 2020, it initially seemed that humans were not at risk from them. In the following study, scientists discovered Khosta-2's alarming characteristics, how it poses a risk to human health and that it is in fact a new coronavirus type. The scientists then began to investigate whether the novel virus is immune to current vaccinations.

The researchers discovered that Khosta-2 was not neutralised by current immunizations using blood serum obtained from individuals who received the COVID-19 vaccine. They also analysed serum from individuals who had the Omicron variant infection, but the antibodies were likewise ineffective.

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The novel virus lacks several of the genes thought to be important for pathogenesis in humans, according to study author Michael Letko. However, there is a chance that Khosta-2 will recombine with another virus, such as S-CoV-2.

Here’s all you need to know about Khosta-2

It is a different coronavirus subtype found in Russian bats that can infect people. The spike protein allows a virus to enter and infect human cells. S- CoV-2 and Khosta-2 are both members of the coronavirus group known as sarbecoviruses

Research has also shown that sarbecoviruses found in wildlife outside of Asia, including regions like western Russia, where the Khosta-2 virus was discovered, are a threat to continuing S-CoV-2 vaccine efforts as well as to the general public's health.

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Dr. Pragya Yadav, Senior Scientist at the National Institute of Virology (ICMR-NIV), Pune, claims that the Khosta virus has not yet infected any humans. A virus that has been described as a vaccination restraint was found in Russian horseshoe bats.

According to a recent study by Seifert et al., chimeric SARS-CoV-2-based spikes containing the RBD from the Khosta viruses have exhibited resistance to neutralisation using SARS-CoV-2 RBD-specific monoclonal antibody, Bamlanivimab, and serum from people who got either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccinations.

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The development or reemergence of any viral virus in India would not pose a threat to the general people, according to senior scientists at the ICMR-NIV. "We have already shown this strength in the past, like during the days of the Zika, Nipah, and monkeypox viruses, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic," Dr. Pragya Yadav added.

The researchers said Khosta-1 was shown to pose little risk to people, but Khosta-2 exhibited certain unsettling characteristics. They discovered that, similar to S-CoV-2, Khosta-2 may infect cells using its spike protein by adhering to a receptor protein known as angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) that is present in all human cells.

(With inputs from agencies)


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