All You Need To Know About The New Covid Strain
The new coronavirus strains in UK and South Africa are said to spread more easily. While this new development has caused alarm, it is unclear if they impact the severity of the disease.
Experts have said that the new strain has the ability to infect more rapidly, but they are not certain if it is more dangerous.
NBC News quoted Patrick Vallance, the British government’s chief scientific adviser, as saying that the strain “moves fast and is becoming the dominant variant,” causing over 60% of infections in London by December.
The strain possesses so many mutations — nearly two dozen — and some are on the spiky protein that the virus uses to attach to and infect cells. The current vaccine targets that spike.
“I’m worried about this, for sure,” but it’s too soon to know how important it ultimately will prove to be, said Dr. Ravi Gupta, who a viruses researcher at the University of Cambridge in England. He and other researchers posted a report of it on a website scientists use to quickly share developments, but the paper has not been formally reviewed or published.
NBC further reported that viruses often acquire small changes of a letter or two in their genetic alphabet just through normal evolution. A slightly modified strain can become the most common one in a country or region just because that’s the strain that first took hold there or because “super spreader” events helped it become entrenched.
A bigger worry is when a virus mutates by changing the proteins on its surface to help it escape from drugs or the immune system.
“Emerging evidence” suggests that may be starting to happen with the new coronavirus, Trevor Bedford, a biologist and genetics expert at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, wrote on Twitter. “We’ve now seen the emergence and spread of several variants” that suggest this, and some show resistance to antibody treatments, he said.