Here we go again.
A team of Chinese scientists from Wuhan have discovered a new strain of coronavirus that they fear could make the jump from animals to humans. Shortly after another team of Chinese scientists published new research claiming that the omicron strain may have gestated inside mice, this other team has warned about the "potential bio-safety threat" represented by a new strain of COVID.
The team of researchers from Wuhan University claimed to have "unexpectedly" stumbled upon the new strain, which they're calling "the NeoCoV strain" (should it become a serious enough threat to warrant a "variant of concern" label, the WHO will grant the mutant strain a new Greek letter name).
The strain was originally discovered in South Africa and is a "close relative" of omicron.
Keep in mind, this isn't the first new strain to emerge since omicron was first discovered by a team in South Africa. The world has already faced down "deltacron", a mutant with attributes of both strains, that caused a splash in global press when it was first discovered.
But the fact that a team of scientists from Wuhan has zeroed in on this strain certainly doesn't bode well.
The new strain "can efficiently use some types of bat Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) and, less favorably, human ACE2 for entry."
SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID, was first discovered in Wuhan before it spread throughout the world as millions of Chinese traveled for the Lunar New Year holiday. The timing of the latest discovery comes amid this year's holiday.
While the strain presently targets bats, the scientists said it has the capability to infect humans as well. And should that happen, it appears the new strain "could not be cross-neutralized by antibodies targeting SARS-CoV-2 or MERS-CoV" meaning natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity would likely be powerless to stop it.
Although NeoCoV "remains enigmatic," the scientists warned of a "potential bio-safety threat" for humans "with both high fatality and transmission rate."
Interested parties can read the pre-print about the discovery below: