New COVID-Like Virus Found In Russian Bats, Able To Infect Humans Says US Study

Scientists have found that a coronavirus discovered in bats in Russia is able to infect humans, and evade vaccines and available antibody treatments. 

Researchers from Washington State University (WSU) said in a study that was published last Thursday (29 September) said the virus is known as “Khosta-2” which belongs to the same class of coronaviruses as SARS-CoV-2 called sarbecovirus. 

new covid-like virus found in russian bats, able to infect humans says us studyPhoto via TIME

They also note that there is a need to develop a universal vaccine against the sarbecovirus to protect the human population against future COVID-like pandemics. 

Researchers first found the new virus in Russian bats in late 2020. 

The team of researchers had identified two new viruses and named them Khosta-1 and Khosta-2. They then discovered that Khosta-1 didn’t pose much threat to humans, however Khosta-2 showed some troubling traits.

Micharl Letko, WSU virologist and one of the authors of the study said in a press statement that when they looked more closely, they were “really surprised to find that the virus could infect human cells.”

For now, the virus doesn’t have the genes to develop into a disease in humans, and doesn’t pose the risk of combining with a second virus like the SARS-CoV-2 to evolve into a potentially deadly strain.

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By: Aishah Akashah Ahadiat