Scientists have discovered that a newly discovered coronavirus found in bats in Russia has a disturbing ability to infect human cells. Although the pathogen is very similar to the SARS-CoV-2 virus that underlies COVID-19, current vaccines would be useless against it.
This is stated in a new study by scientists from the University of Washington, who re-examined samples of the Host-1 and Host-2 viruses detected in horseshoe bats near Sochi National Park back in 2020. The new analysis has shown that these pathogens are likely to be much more dangerous than originally thought.
“Hosta-1” and “Hosta-2” are sarbecoviruses, the same group of coronaviruses that caused the 2002-2004 SARS outbreak, as well as COVID-19.
When we studied them in more detail, we were very surprised to find that they can infect human cells. This slightly changes our understanding of these viruses, where they come from and which regions are of concern.
the author of the related study and a virologist at the University of Washington.
It turns out that Hosta-2 can use its spike protein to infect human cells by binding to ACE2, the same receptor that SARS-CoV-2 uses to take over and enter the body. Hundreds of sarbecoviruses have been identified in recent years, but the ability to infect human cells is rare.
Despite the similarity of the virus to SARS-CoV-2, current vaccines and treatment with monoclonal antibodies against COVID-19 will not work with it, the scientists added .
With all this, new sarbecoviruses do not pose an immediate threat to the population at the moment. So far, they are just another reminder that the threat of transmission of dangerous viruses from animals to humans always exists, and the world must be better prepared for this.
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