Chinese scientists have identified the new NeoCov coronavirus strain in bats in South Africa and the possible risks from the strain require further research and assessment, reported Sputnik.

Chinese scientists, most of whom work for Wuhan University, published a preprint of an article earlier this week about the risks of penetration of NeoCov into the human population on the bioRxiv website, according to Sputnik “Specialists of the Vector Scientific Center are aware of the data obtained by Chinese specialists regarding the NeoCov coronavirus,” the Russian State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology Vector told Sputnik.

“At the moment, there are no discussions about the emergence of a new coronavirus that is ready to actively spread in the human population. The risks identified by Chinese experts are potential and require further study,” according to the study.

Scientists have said that the virus in question is a close relative of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) but has similar ways of entry into human cells as SARS-CoV-2.

NeoCov has a latent potential to mutate and penetrate the human population, scientists added.

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