EM – This new variant of COVID-19 only has 10 cases, but that’s why a UK researcher is concerned

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Ben cousins
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TORONTO –
A scientist in the UK takes note of a Botswana-derived variant of COVID-19 with a staggering number of mutations, although there have only been 10 confirmed cases so far.

The variant B.1.1.529 was first discovered in the South African country and has since been discovered in South Africa and by a traveler in Hong Kong who was in South Africa.

Although there were only 10 confirmed cases by sequencing – three in Botswana, six in South Africa and one in Hong Kong – Tom Peacock, a virologist at Imperial College London, said its potential is noteworthy because of its 32 spike mutations.

“Exporting to Asia implies this may be more common than sequences alone suggest.” Peacock wrote on a genome-sharing website. “The extremely long ramifications and the incredibly high number of spike mutations also suggest that this could be really worrying.”

Mutations in the spike protein, or spike mutations, can change the way a virus infects cells and spreads. These mutations can also make it harder for the body’s immune system to attack.

The World Health Organization currently lists B.1.1.529 as a “variant under observation”. which is below the agency’s classification for “interesting variants”. and “Worrying Variants.”

In a Twitter thread about the variant, Peacock described the spike mutation profile as “awful”. but emphasizes the low case numbers just make it something to keep an eye on for now.

“It is worth stressing that this is very low right now in a region of Africa that is pretty well sampled, but it should be very, very monitored because of this terrible peak profile,” he said.

“It is possible that this is just a strange cluster that is not very portable. I hope that is the case. he wrote in another tweet.

One last observation – this variant contains not one, but two furin cleavage site mutations – P681H (seen in Alpha, Mu, some gamma, B.1.1.318) combined with N679K (seen in C.1.2 etc.) – that is the This is the first time I’ve seen two of these mutations in a single variant …

As people line up to vote at a polling station in Soweto, South Africa, voters wait at a pop-up vaccination booth to vote on Monday November 1st, 2021 to receive your COVID-19 vaccination. (AP Photo / Jerome Delay)

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