Coronvirus: variant with 10 worrying cases

TORONTO – A scientist from the UK takes note of a variant of COVID-19 that originated in Botswana with an astonishing number of mutations, although there have only been 10 confirmed cases to date.

The B.1.1.529 variant was first discovered in this southern African country and has since been found in South Africa and in a traveler in Hong Kong who had visited South Africa.

Although there have only been 10 cases confirmed by sequencing – three in Botswana, six in South Africa and one in Hong Kong – Tom Peacock, a virologist at Imperial College London, said his potential deserves to be noted for its 32 advanced mutations.

“The export to Asia implies that it might be more prevalent than the footage alone would suggest,” Peacock wrote on a website for genome sharing. “Additionally, the extremely long branch lengths and the incredibly high number of tip mutations suggest that this could be a real concern. “

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 “variant under surveillance”, which is below the agency’s classification of “variants of interest” and “variants of concern”.

In a Twitter feed on the variantPeacock called the peak mutation profile “horrific,” but stressed that the low number of cases makes it something to watch for now.

“It is worth pointing out that the numbers are currently very low in an area of ​​Africa that is fairly well sampled, but it should very, very well be watched because of this horrible peak profile. ” he said.

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

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