Here are 5 things that the Wuhan researchers said about the NeoCov coronavirus:
NeoCov is closely related to the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), a viral disease first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012, said the Chinese researchers in a yet-to-be peer reviewed study recently posted on preprint repository BioRxiv.
The virus carries the high mortality rate of MERS-CoV (where one in three infected people die on average) and the high transmission rate of the current COVID-19 virus.
NeoCov can penetrate human cells in the same way as SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
In its current form, NeoCov does not infect humans but further mutations may make it potentially harmful. "We unexpectedly found that NeoCoV and its close relative, PDF-2180-CoV, can efficiently use some types of bat Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) and, less favorably, human ACE2 for entry," the scientists said.
The NeoCov infection could not be neutralised by antibodies that target the Covid virus.