Over the course of the last two years, the world has found itself in the grips of a lengthy and divisive pandemic, as COVID-19 tore through the global population, taking lives and livelihoods from a vast number of people.
The virus, which was said to be first transferred to humans from bats at a wet market in Wuhan, China, was eventually quelled by the immunity provided by both natural means and vaccinations, and life as we know it is beginning to get back to normal in 2022.
But that could all be about to change.
Scientists are warning of a new, COVID-like virus called Khosta-2 originating from a Russian bat. It is believed to be capable of infecting humans, and would be resistant to current vaccines.
Khosta-2 was found two years ago in horsehoe bats. Its discovery adds to evidence that sarbecoviruses — part of the coronavirus family — are rife across Asia and eastern Europe.
The warning was dire.
“Our research further demonstrates that sarbecoviruses circulating in wildlife outside of Asia – even in places like western Russia where the Khosta-2 virus was found – also pose a threat to global health and ongoing vaccine campaigns against SARS-CoV-2,” says study lead author Dr Michael Letko, of Washington State University, in a statement.
The serums used to protect humans from COVID-19 appear to be completely ineffective against Khosta-2, including those developed to target the later-stage Omicron variant of the virus.