Mutations on the spike can therefore potentially prove problematic for mRNA doses, like Pfizer and Moderna. Spike proteins are what viruses use to get into human cells, and some of the vaccines work by training the body to recognise the spikes and neutralise them. However, with only a handful of recorded cases – three in Botswana, six in South Africa and one in Hong Kong from someone who travelled from South Africa – scientists are hopeful that COVID cases caused by the new virus specimen will not be widespread.
Just spotted: very small cluster of variant associated with Southern Africa with very long branch length and really awful Spike mutation profile including RBD – K417N, N440K, G446S, S477N, T478K, E484A, Q493K, G496S, Q498R, N501Y, Y505Hhttps://t.co/kgA9c1hKDa Live COVID updates from across the UK and around the world
— Tom Peacock (@PeacockFlu) November 23, 2021 Tom Peacock, a virologist at Imperial College London, branded the mutations “really awful”.
Scientists reckon that high vaccination and infection rates mean that a high level of immunity is now present. According to The Times, scientists at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine estimate that – should all restrictions and vaccinations end immediately – England would have around 10,000 more COVID deaths relative to its population of 56 million. It comes amid reports that England may be nearer to the “end” of the pandemic than any other European country.
She added that the “constellation” of mutations on B.1.1.529 could be because it “evolved during a chronic infection of an immunocompromised person, possibly in an untreated HIV/AIDS patient”. Francois Balloux, professor of computational systems biology at University College London, said: “For the time being, it should be closely monitored and analysed, but there is no reason to get overly concerned, unless it starts going up in frequency in the near future.”
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- COVID-19: New Coronavirus B.1.1.529 Variant Identified in Botswana as Scientists Minimize Concerns | World News
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