Coronavirus mutant species in the UK; How much should we worry?

The spread of a more contagious strain of the coronavirus in the UK has raised concerns and unrest in Europe. By banning passengers from the UK, canceling flights and cutting off trade routes on Monday, European countries recalled a situation reminiscent of the frightening days of globalization earlier this year.

after that Boris JohnsonThe British Prime Minister said that the new variant called B.1.1.7 is up to 70% more contagious than other species, raising concerns about a new mutation in the coronavirus. Also, according to the government, the development of a new species may make the virus resistant to new vaccines. However, he said Mogwick, An infectious disease specialist at the University of St Andrews in Scotland and a scientific adviser to the British government, estimates that 70% of most transmissions are based solely on modeling and have not yet been proven in laboratory tests. British officials say there is no reason to believe the new species is causing more serious illness. Also, it takes years (not months) for the virus to develop enough to disable current vaccines.

However, statistics have sounded the alarm around the world. By suspending freight traffic across the English Channel for 48 hours, France has locked hundreds of truck drivers in their cars and turned roads leading to British ports into car parks. Nearly a quarter of all food consumed in the UK is produced in the EU, and recent restrictions have raised concerns about the possibility of food shortages.

Australia, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy and the Netherlands have all imposed travel restrictions. On Sunday night, air passengers from Britain to Germany were detained at airports. Poland says it will suspend flights between the two countries starting Monday. Hong Kong also closed its borders to passengers from Britain today, saying passenger flights from the country would be canceled from midnight. This restriction will also apply to Hong Kong residents for the first time. Canada, India, Iran and Russia have also imposed new restrictions.

Scientists, meanwhile, are struggling to figure out whether the new species is really accelerating from human to human. They also wonder how the new species evolved so quickly. B.1.1.7 has unprecedentedly jumped 17 jumps simultaneously. Specialists are now working hard to characterize some of these mutations in the laboratory.

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Researchers have been monitoring the evolution of the new coronavirus (SAR-CoV-2) more instantly and much more closely than any other virus in history. So far, the virus has accumulated many mutations at an approximate rate of one to two changes per month; This means that many of the sequenced genomes to date differ by nearly 20 points from the original genome sequences in China in January. However, many species are circulating with less variation.

Nick Luhmann“Because we have so much control over genomes, you can do almost any step,” says a microbiologist at the University of Birmingham. [از تکامل ویروس] see that.” But scientists have never seen a virus get more than one mutation at a time. They think this happened during a long-term monoclonal infection that allowed the new coronavirus to go through long periods of rapid evolution by competing with several species for supremacy.

به‌گفت‌ی Andrew RamboA molecular evolutionary biologist at the University of Edinburgh One reason for concern is that of the 17 mutations, eight are in the gene that produces the spike protein on the surface of the virus, two of which are worrisome. The first mutation, called N501Y, has previously been shown to enhance protein binding to the enzyme receptor 2, the angiotensin converter, or the entry point of the virus into cells in the body. Another mutation called 69-70del leads to the loss of two amino acids in the spike protein and has been found in viruses that elicit an immune response in immunocompromised patients.

At a press conference on Saturday, Patrick ValenceThe B.1.1.7 species, which first appeared in an isolated virus on September 20, is responsible for infecting nearly 26% of cases in mid-November, the UK’s top scientific adviser said. “In the week beginning December 9, the figures were much higher,” he said. “As a result, the disease is a new species in more than 60% of all cases in London.” The British Prime Minister also added that many mutations may have increased the virus’ transmissibility by up to 70%.

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Kristin Drousten, A virologist at the University of Charité in Berlin, considers the figures to be hasty conclusions. According to him, we do not know many details about the new aspect. For example, the rapid release of B.1.1.7 may be purely coincidental. Scientists have previously worried that a strain of the virus called B.1.177, which spread rapidly from Spain to other parts of Europe, may be more contagious. But today they do not think so. In fact, the species was accidentally transported across Europe by travelers traveling to Spain on holiday. Angela Rasmussen, A virologist at Georgetown University says something similar may be happening with B.1.1.7. In addition, Drousten notes that in a new mutation, another viral gene called ORF8 has been deleted. Previous studies have shown that deletion of this gene can reduce the virus’ ability to spread.

According to scientists, B.1.1.7 is probably very widespread right now. Researchers in the Netherlands found the species in a sample taken from a patient in early December. Citizens of other countries may have the same. به‌گفت‌ی William HanajAn epidemiologist from Harvard School of Public Health, the evolutionary process that led to the formation of B.1.1.7 is likely to occur in other parts of the world. With the introduction of widespread vaccination, the evolutionary pressure on the virus will increase and mutations will become more prevalent. However, scientists will closely monitor the evolution of the virus to identify mutations that may enable vaccines to overcome the virus.

The good news is that the technology used in Pfizer, Bionetek and Modern vaccines makes it much easier to modify their product compared to conventional vaccines. New vaccines also elicit widespread immune responses; As a result, the coronavirus must mutate over the years before vaccines need to be modified.

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