New COVID-19 Variant With ’Potentially Worrying Set of Mutations’ Detected in UK
By Staff, Agencies
Another variant of COVID-19 with a potentially worrying set of mutations has been found in the UK, The Guardian reported, citing researchers from the University of Edinburgh.
The new variant, called B1525, was detected through genome sequencing in at least 10 countries. The first sequences emerged as early as December and are said to have cropped up in the United Kingdom and Nigeria.
According to the scientists, B1525 is similar in its genome to the Kent variant, or B117 - first identified in southeast England last September and now present in more than 80 countries around the world. It is estimated to between 30 and 70 percent more lethal and between 35 and 45 percent more transmissible than the original virus.
The “potentially worrying set of mutations” partly refers to the E484K mutation to the spike protein, which is also present in Brazil and South African variants of the new coronavirus.
Researchers say that E484K makes the virus more immune to antibodies.
Dr. Simon Clarke, an associate professor of cellular microbiology at the University of Reading, said the presence of the E484K mutation in the South African variant has been responsible for resistance to some vaccines.
“We don’t yet know how well this [new] variant will spread, but if it is successful it can be presumed that immunity from any vaccine or previous infection will be blunted,” he said.
Dr. Clarke said that until further data is available on the new variant, it should be subject to surge testing.
“I think that until we know more about these variants, any variants which carry E484K should be subject to surge testing, as it seems to confer resistance to immunity, however that is generated.”
At least 32 cases of the new variant of coronavirus have been reported in the UK. 35 infections have been identified in Denmark, 12 - in Nigeria, seven and five - in the United States and France, respectively, with first cases reported in Ghana, Australia, Canada, Jordan, and Spain.