Although the number of infected who have been detected a new variant of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus it’s girl the risk of massive infections in the near future is great.
Called the new Botswana variant, the truth is that scientists have expressed concern about the appearance of B.1.1.529, having a high combination of mutations that could possibly cause the virus to bypass the immunity that a person acquires by having previously been infected with another variant or by having been vaccinated.
Tom peacock, an expert virologist from Imperial College London, in the United Kingdom, was the one who made known the emergence of this new variant in a small group of cases and warned that it had the potential to be “worse than almost anything else”, Including the world’s dominant Delta strain. Only 10 cases have been confirmed in three countries by genomic sequencingBut the variant has raised great concern among some researchers because several of the mutations can help the virus evade immunity, he reported. the Guardian newspaper.
In a series of tweets, the expert warned that the new mutation “should be monitored due to that horrible peak profile it presents”, But added that may turn out to be a “strange group that is not very communicable”. “I hope that is the case,” he wrote.
The first cases of this variant were collected in Botswana on November 11 and in South Africa 6, three days later. The case found in Hong Kong was that of a 36-year-old man who had a negative PCR test before flying from Hong Kong to South Africa, where he remained from October 22 to November 11. He tested negative upon his return to Hong Kong, but tested positive on November 13 while in quarantine.
How is the new mutation
Variant B.1.1.529 has 32 mutations in the spike protein, many of which suggest that it is highly transmissible and resistant to vaccines. and it has more alterations in its peak protein than any other variant. The spike protein is the part of the virus that most vaccines use to prime the immune system against COVID. Mutations in the spike protein can affect the virus’s ability to infect cells and spread, but they also make it harder for immune cells to attack the pathogen.
The teacher David Livermore, microbiologist at the University of East Anglia, said that the Botswana variant had caused concern due to its “very extensive” set of mutations.
“This increases the risk of escape from the protection provided by the vaccine, but it does not prove that it will occur. The infectivity of the strain is also not clear, how it is affected by the structure of the spike.”. The Botswana variant carries the K417N and E484A mutations that are similar to the South African ‘Beta’ variant that made it more capable of dodging vaccines. But you also have the N440K, found in Delta, and S477N, in the New York variant, which are also linked to antibody escape. The variant also has the P681H and N679K mutations that are “rarely seen together” and could make it even more resistant to existing vaccines.
AND contains the N501Y mutation that makes viruses more transmissible and that was previously seen in the Kent ‘Alpha’ and Beta variant, among others. Other mutations it has include G446S, T478K, Q493K, G496S, Q498R, and Y505H, although their significance is not yet clear.
Scientists will watch the new variant for any signs that it is gaining momentum and spreading more widely. Some virologists in South Africa are already concerned, particularly given the recent increase in cases in Gauteng, an urban area containing Pretoria and Johannesburg, where cases of B.1.1.529 have been detected.
Did it come from a patient with HIV?
The teacher Francois balloux, director of the Institute of Genetics at University College London (UCL), said that the large number of mutations in the variant apparently they accumulated in a “single burst”, suggesting that they may have evolved during a chronic infection in a person with a weakened immune system, possibly an undiagnosed HIV / AIDS patient.
In patients with weakened immune systems, infections can last for months because the body cannot fight them. Changes in the peak of the virus make it difficult for current vaccines to fight, because they train the immune system to recognize an older version of this part of the virus. Scientists previously said that the Kent ‘Alpha’ variant may have arisen this way.
Professor Lawrence Young, a virologist at Warwick School of Medicine, indicated that it “appears” that this mutant strain might be better at eluding vaccine-triggered immunity than other mutants based on its mutations. But he added: “It’s always hard to tell just by looking [mutaciones], and much depends on how the immune system perceives the change and responds. But it seems that only due to the severe burden of [mutaciones], some of which we know a lot about in terms of harmful transmission, it seems that it could be a little more worrisome than the South African variant ”, he completed.
Ravi Gupta, A professor of clinical microbiology at the University of Cambridge, he said that work in his laboratory found that two of the mutations in B.1.1.529 increased infectivity and reduced antibody recognition. “It certainly seems like a major concern based on the mutations present. However, a key property of the virus that is unknown is its infectivity, as that is what appears to have primarily driven the Delta variant. Immune escape is only part of the picture of what can happen ”, explained the expert.
Meera Chand, COVID-19 Incident Director at the UK Health Security Agency, said that, in partnership with scientific bodies around the world, the agency constantly monitored the status of Sars-CoV-2 variants as they emerged and they are developed all over the world.
“As it is in the nature of viruses to mutate frequently and randomly, it is not unusual for a small number of cases to arise with new sets of mutations.. Any variant that shows evidence of spread is quickly evaluated, “he said. England no longer has a red list to impose restrictions on travelers arriving from abroad. People who are not fully vaccinated must test negative before flying and schedule two PCR tests upon arrival. Those who are fully vaccinated must undergo a Covid test within two days of landing.