Scientists Find New Coronavirus in Russian Bats That Can Dodge Immunity from Current Vaccines

Just as the world pulls itself out of a pandemic that brought life to a standstill for over two years, yet another new Coronavirus – Khosta-2 – has been found in Russia by scientists, according to a journal PLoS Pathogens.

According to the report, scientists have found a group of coronaviruses similar to that of the SARS-CoV-2 – the current Coronavirus – that were first discovered living in bats in Russia in 2020. Scientists however did not think that the virus posed a threat to human beings at the time. Upon research and more analysis, the scientists found that the virus could not only infect human cells when checked in a lab, but they could dodge the current Coronavirus vaccine immunity.

“We do not want to scare anybody and say this is a completely vaccine-resistant virus,” Michael Letko, the lead scientist in the study, told the Time magazine. “But it is concerning that there are viruses circulating in nature that have these properties—they can bind to human receptors and are not so neutralized by current vaccine responses.”

According to the researchers from Washington State University, the virus comes under a sub-category of coronaviruses called sarbecovirus, a type of respiratory viruses. The study also suggests that similar type of Coronavirus – Khosta-1 was found too, but did not pose a threat as it did not infect human cells unlike Khosta-2, reports Time magazine.

The researchers said the study’s findings demonstrate that sarbecoviruses in wildlife outside of Asia pose “a threat to global health,” as well as to ongoing COVID-19 vaccination campaigns, reports Newsweek. However, according to the researchers, this virus does not have genes that can cause serious disease in people like the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2, but can eventually change if it gets mixed with genes of SARS-CoV-2.

A Virologist, Dr. Arinjay Banerjee shared the report on Twitter and said, “This is why we need to develop more broadly protective vaccines against Sarbecoviruses to prevent further outbreaks of zoonotic coronaviruses.”

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