Khosta-2: contamination, resistance to vaccines... what we know about this virus close to Covid-19 discovered in Russia

Khosta-2: contamination, resistance to vaccines… what we know about this virus close to Covid-19 discovered in Russia

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Researchers claim to have discovered a new type of coronavirus in Russia, “Khosta-2”. This virus was carried by bats. This is likely to contaminate humans, while resisting the vaccines currently used to fight Covid-19. the midi office Make the point.

Almost three years have passed since the discovery of SARS-CoV-2 in China, the origin of Covid-19. Although the pandemic has not disappeared, researchers at Washington State University in the United States have taken a close interest in a new virus, called Khosta-2. In a study published in the journal “PLoS Pathogens” on Wednesday, September 21, the researchers return to this discovery in detail. the midi office Make the point.

What is “Khosta-2”?

According to scientists, it is a “sarbecovirus”, a particular type of virus that includes several coronaviruses, linked to “severe acute respiratory syndrome”. This virus would have “worrying characteristics” close to SARS-CoV-2, which is now actively circulating in the world.

Also read:
Khosta-2: what is this strange Russian virus, close to Covid-19, that would resist vaccines?

In practice, most sarbecoviruses infect bats, but this type of virus is also found in civet cats or even badgers. This has been identified in bats in Russia. Scientists say the virus was already circulating there in 2020.

Can humans be infected?

In recent years, scientific studies on sarbecoviruses have multiplied, which until now have confirmed that the virus was incapable of contaminating human cells. This would not be the case with the “Khosta-2”.

“We discovered that the Khosta-2 virus spike protein could infect cells like human pathogens, using the same entry mechanisms,” the researchers explain in this study. However, based on early research, this virus is unlikely to cause severe forms.

Are vaccines effective against this virus?

Researchers from Washington State University affirm that the “Khosta-2” virus would be resistant “to neutralization by the serum of individuals who had been vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2”: “Our results further demonstrate that the sarbecoviruses that circulating in wildlife outside of Asia also pose a threat to global health and ongoing vaccination campaigns against SARS-CoV-2,” the researchers warn.

The question of a virus “circulating in nature”, “capable of binding to human receptors” and unable to be “neutralized by current vaccine responses” is worrying according to scientists.

How to explain the discovery of this new virus?

The discovery of “Khosta-2” could be related to the repeated mutations of SARS-CoV-2. The virus may have become a mutant. “When related coronaviruses enter the same animal and the same cells, they can recombine and produce a new virus,” warns Michael Letko, a professor at Washington State University, in the columns of the Weather.

The researcher fears, among other things, that these mutations will give rise to two new viruses that are “more virulent” and “resistant to vaccine immunity.” The researcher therefore advocates the development of universal vaccines that allow humans to be protected against all forms of sarbecovirus.

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