You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

What is Khosta-2? 'Vaccine Resistant' New Covid-like Virus That Could Infect Humans | News18 Explains

News18 27-09-2022 News Desk
What is Khosta-2? 'Vaccine Resistant' New Covid-like Virus That Could Infect Humans | News18 Explains © Provided by News18 What is Khosta-2? 'Vaccine Resistant' New Covid-like Virus That Could Infect Humans | News18 Explains

At a time when the world is recovering from the severe impact of the coronavirus pandemic, researchers have raised concerns over the discovery of a new Covid-like virus named Khosta-2, which was found in Russian bats. According to a study conducted by Washington State University (WSU), this new S-CoV-2-like virus is capable of infecting humans and is resistant to current vaccines against Covid-19.

A team of American scientists at WSU has found spike proteins from the bat virus can infect human cells and is resistant to both the antibody therapies and blood serum from people vaccinated for CoV 2.

Here’s what we know about Khosta-2 so far:

What is Khosta-2?

Khosta-2 is a virus that uses the spike protein to enter and infect human cells. Both Khosta-2 and CoV-2 belong to the same sub-category of coronavirus known as sarbecoviruses.

“Our research further demonstrates that sarbecoviruses circulating in wildlife outside of Asia — even in places like western Russia where the Khosta-2 virus was found — also pose a threat to global health and ongoing vaccine campaigns againstS-CoV-2,” Michael Letko, corresponding author of the study, was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.

Any Risk to Humans?

The Khosta-1 and Khosta-2 viruses were found in bats in Russia in late 2020 and initially it was not seen as a threat to humans. “Genetically, these weird Russian viruses looked like some of the others that had been discovered elsewhere around the world, but because they did not look like S-CoV-2, no one thought they were really anything to get too excited about,” Letko said, adding, “But when we looked at them more, we were really surprised to find they could infect human cells. That changes a little bit of our understanding of these viruses, where they come from and what regions are concerning.”

According to researchers, Khosta-1 posed low risk to humans but Khosta-2 demonstrated some worrying traits.

The scientist said the new virus is lacking some of the genes believed to be involved in pathogenesis in humans. There is a risk, however, of Khosta-2 recombining with a second virus like S-CoV-2.

“When you see S-2 has this ability to spill back from humans and into wildlife, and then there are other viruses like Khosta-2 waiting in those animals with these properties we really don’t want them to have, it sets up this scenario where you keep rolling the dice until they combine to make a potentially riskier virus,” the scientist added.

Is Khosta-2 virus resistant to Covid vaccines?

The study, published in the journal PLoS Pathogens, has said that there is a need to develop universal vaccines to protect against sarbecoviruses in general, rather than just against known variants of S-CoV-2.

“Right now, there are groups trying to come up with a vaccine that doesn’t just protect against the next variant of S-2 but actually protects us against the sarbecoviruses in general. Unfortunately, many of our current vaccines are designed to specific viruses we know infect human cells or those that seem to pose the biggest risk to infect us,” Letko said.

Using blood serum derived from people vaccinated for Covid-19, the scientists have found that Khosta-2 was not neutralised by the vaccines available in the market currently. They also tested serum from people who were infected with the Omicron variant, but the antibodies, too, were ineffective.

(with inputs from PTI)

Read the Latest News and Breaking News here

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon