Warning for new variant with ‘horrific’ mutations

A new variant of the coronavirus has emerged with an incredibly high number of mutations, scientists warn. There are fears that the new version, called B.1.1529, may lead to more infections, writes The Independent.

The new variant has 32 mutations in the spike protein. Bad news: Most vaccines actually train the immune system to recognize and attack the coronavirus spike protein. The mutations also make it easier for the virus to infect people who have already gone through Covid-19.

B.1.1529 has been observed so far in Botswana (3 identified cases), South Africa (6) and Hong Kong (1). The infection in Hong Kong belonged to a person who had been to South Africa.

Virologist Tom Peacock (at Imperial College London) speaks of “horrific” mutations. He urges you to keep a close eye on the new version: B.1.1529 may be more contagious than all previous variants.

Professor Francois Balloux suspects that the mutations arose overnight. This probably happened in a corona patient with a weakened immune system. In such patients, the virus can continue to proliferate, creating new mutations that more easily evade the immune system.

There is a fear that in this way a new super variant of the virus arises. The risk of such a dangerous supermutation increases the more the virus circulates, as is now the case, for example, in many European countries.

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