NEW DELHI: India is keeping an eye on reports of a Chinese study on coronavirus type NeoCov, which spreads among bats in South Africa. Speaking to this newspaper, the Indian Council of Medical Research’s Head of Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases, Dr Samiran Panda, said, “It has been reported from China. India is keeping an eye on this. It is too early to comment on how much of a real threat it poses for India or the world. Every country is keeping an eye on it,” Dr Panda said.
The new variant has caused concern, as Chinese scientists in Wuhan, the epicentre of Covid, in a research paper, which is yet to be peer-reviewed, flagged concerns that the variant may mutate to harm humans.
NeoCov is related to Middle East respiratory syndrome, first reported from Saudi Arabia in 2012 and known for its severe lethality. The World Health Organisation has also said that the NeoCov coronavirus requires further study.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause diseases ranging from common cold to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. But researchers, who recently highlighted the new variant, have warned that NeoCoV could spread using a similar technique used by Covid-19-causing SARS-CoV-2 with a higher transmission rate. Some reports also say that NeoCoV is not a “new” variant and was discovered much earlier. However, not much about the new variant is known at the moment.