New Brunswick Tribune

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Although there are just 10 cases of this new COVID-19 variation, a UK researcher is worried

Key takeaways:

  • A British scientist has discovered a COVID-19 variant from Botswana with amazing alterations.
  • Changes in the spike protein, or mutations, can affect how a virus infects cells and spreads.

A scientist in the United Kingdom has noticed a COVID-19 variant from Botswana with incredible mutations, although there have only been ten verified cases so far.

The B.1.1.529 variety was first detected in the southern African country. It has since been discovered in South Africa and in a Hong Kong traveler who had previously visited South Africa.

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Although just ten instances have been validated through sequencing (three in Botswana, six in South Africa, and also 1 in Hong Kong), Tom Peacock, a virologist at Imperial College London, believes the virus’s potential is worth highlighting because of its 32 spike mutations.

On a genome exchange website, Peacock said, “Export to Asia shows this might be more common than sequences alone would imply.” “Also, the unusually long branch length and incredibly high number of spike mutations indicate that this could be a serious issue.”

Spike mutations, or changes in the spike protein, can alter how a virus infects cells and spreads. These mutations may also make it more difficult for the body’s immune system to recognize and combat it.

Although there are just 10 cases of this new COVID-19 variation.

B.1.1.529 is now classified as a “variant under monitoring” by the World Health Organization, which places it between “variants of interest” and “variants of concern.”

Peacock termed the spike mutation profile “terrible” in a Twitter conversation about the variant but stressed that the low case numbers made it merely something to watch for now.

“It’s worth noting that this is at incredibly low numbers right now in a region of Africa that is quite well sampled, but it should be monitored owing to that horrible spike profile,” he said.

“It’s possible that this is just a strange cluster that isn’t easily transmissible.” In another tweet, he said, “I pray that’s the case.”

Source: CTV News

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