A number of scientists and researchers explained that a new strain of the Corona virus that carries a “very large number” of mutations may lead to the further spread of new waves of the Covid-19 epidemic by evading the body’s defenses, according to the newspaper.The Guardian“.
According to the British newspaper, 10 cases have been documented in three countries by genetic sequencing, as this new mutant has raised great concern among some researchers because some of its mutations may help the virus to deceive the human immune system.
The mutant known as “B.1.1.529” contains 32 mutations in the “spike protein”, which is the protein responsible for forming the spiny protrusions found on the surface of the Corona virus, which gives it the coronary shape known for it, and which most vaccines use to strengthen immunity against the Covid epidemic. -19.
The researchers noted that mutations in the spike protein may affect the virus’s ability to infect cells and spread, but at the same time make it difficult for immune cells to attack the pathogen in the coronavirus.
The new mutant was first discovered in Botswana in Africa, where 3 cases were documented, before 6 other infections were confirmed in South Africa, and one in Hong Kong for a traveler returning from South Africa.
Imperial College London virologist Tom Peacock posted details of the new variant on a genome-sharing website, noting that “it contains incredibly large amounts of mutations, so it could be a real concern.”
In a series of tweets, Peacock demanded that this mutator be monitored very closely because of its horrific profile,” but added that it could turn into a “weird group” that is highly non-infectious…and I hope that is the case.
“Given the nature of viruses to mutate frequently and randomly, it is not unusual for small numbers of cases to appear with a strain containing new combinations of mutations,” said Mira Chand, director of COVID-19 case follow-up at the UK’s Health Security Agency.
Chand stressed that any strains showing evidence of spread would be quickly assessed.
The first three cases were documented in Botswana on November 11, before the other cases were confirmed in South Africa three days later, while the case found in Hong Kong belonged to a 36-year-old man, whose corona examination test was negative. Before traveling passively from Hong Kong to South Africa, where he stayed from October 22 to November 11.
With experts monitoring the new mutation for any sign that it is gaining momentum and spreading more widely, some South African virologists are already concerned, particularly given the recent surge in coronavirus cases in Gauteng province, which includes the cities of Pretoria and Johannesburg, where Patients infected with the new strain were discovered
Ravi Gupta, professor of clinical microbiology at the University of Cambridge, said work in his lab found that two mutations in B.1.1.529 increased infection and antibody recognition.
He continued, “The new strain certainly appears to be a major concern based on the mutations present in it.” “
He pointed out that the infection characteristic of the new mutant is still unknown, and therefore its ability to escape from immunity is part of the picture of what may happen in the future.
And the director of the Institute of Genetics at University College London (UCL), Francois Ballox, pointed out that the large number of mutations in the mutant had accumulated “at once”, indicating that it may have developed during a chronic infection in a person with a weakened immune system, and the That patient is infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
He concluded by saying: “It is difficult to predict the extent of the possibility of transmission of the mutant at this stage, and at the present time it must be closely monitored and analyzed, but there is no reason to worry excessively unless infections occur frequently and at a high rate in the near future.”
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