Khosta-2: New Covid-like virus found in bats, could infect humans

The virus was found by a team led by researchers at Washington State University (WSU), US.
Representative image
Representative image

CHENNAI: A new SARS-CoV-2-like virus discovered in Russian bats and reported to be capable of infecting humans and is resistant to current vaccines against Covid, a study has found.

The virus was found by a team led by researchers at Washington State University (WSU), US. The researchers found spike proteins from the bat virus, named Khosta-2, and stated that the virus can infect human cells and is resistant to both the antibody therapies and blood serum from people vaccinated for SARS-CoV-2.

Here are a few things you need to know about Khosta-2:

  • Khosta-2 and SARS- CoV-2 belong to the same sub-category of coronaviruses known as sarbecoviruses. The research also demonstrated that sarbecoviruses circulate in wildlife outside of Asia -- even in places like western Russia where the Khosta-2 virus was found.

  • Khosta-2 poses a threat to the ongoing vaccine campaigns against Covid, the study said.

  • The study highlighted the need to develop universal vaccines to protect against sarbecoviruses.

  • The Khosta-1 and Khosta-2 viruses were discovered in Russian bats in late 2020.

  • Both, Khosta-1 and Khosta-2 viruses did not appear to be a threat to humans initially, the researchers said.

  • Both, Khosta-1 and Khosta-2 were weird Russian viruses that looked like some of the others that had been discovered elsewhere around the world, but because they did not look like SARS-CoV-2, no one thought they were really anything to get too excited about, a researcher said.

  • The researchers said that Khosta-1 posed low risk to humans, but Khosta-2 demonstrated some troubling traits.

  • The study stated that Khosta-2 can use its spike protein to infect cells by attaching to a receptor protein, called angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), found throughout human cells.

  • Using blood serum derived from people vaccinated for Covid, the researchers found that Khosta-2 was not neutralised by current vaccines. They also tested serum from people who were infected with the Omicron variant, but the antibodies, too, were ineffective.

  • A researcher also added that the new virus is lacking some of the genes believed to be involved in pathogenesis in humans.

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