A Super Spreader COVID strain

By Dr NK Prasanna, CSIR-National Institute of Science Communication and Information Resources, New Delhi and Dr SK Varshney, Department of Science and Technology, New Delhi

0 372

The Havoc of the novel coronavirus is not yet over and this new variant of SARS CoV-2 has created a sudden panic among the population of the UK and Nigeria. Though this new variant strain is still in its initial state of investigation but it is referred to as SARS-CoV-2 VUI 202012/01 (variant under investigation, year 2020, month 12, variant 01) or the B.1.1.7 lineage. According to the Global Phylogeny, a change in DNA sequence is known as mutation and due to the mutating nature of the viruses, this new strain also mutates regularly around two weeks or it can be one to two mutations per month depending upon the genome of the virus. Through viral genomic sequencing, a new variant of SARS-CoV-2 has been identified in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and the Netherland which they reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) on 14 December.

This variant contains the presence of series of mutations that change an amino acid and three deletions. According to WHO, one of the mutations identified (N501Y) is altering an amino acid within the six key residues in the receptor-binding domain (RBD). The Global Initiative on Sharing Arian Influenza Data (GISAID) database has also shared that some other countries have delineated the same receptor RBD. In general, coronavirus is an RNA virus-like other flu since every virus mutates and tries to expand its growth, it also mutates on an average of one to two times a month but the different and important thing to understand is that its upper layer or spike protein that allows them to penetrate in human cells and spread infections.

Initial investigation of the new strain suggests that this variant might have the capability to spread more readily between people although no such association with the mortality was observed said UK officials. The transmission rate of this variant is between 40% and 70%than the previously circulating virus. But due to the sudden increase in the number of cases were seen, where this virus mutation happened in the last few days or month sput it into a alarming situation for not only the affected countries for the world as well. Scientists and researchers are still finding all possible ways to determine its relevance with mortality, severity, response towards antibody, and the efficacy of the vaccine. 

Vaccines that are already in their manufacturing stage, showed genuine concerned related to this strain and if we look towards the efficacy of the vaccines, they need to be modified if the mutation occurs so that it could work more effectively against the virus. Otherwise there is no need to panic at this moment, at the same time it is important to be cautious and alert to reduce its spread. The transmission ability of this strain constantly becomes a matter of concern and to tackle this situation we must follow existing guidelines or norms that should be strictly being followed like hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene, cut-off social gatherings, etc. 

Further, virological and epidemiological studies are required to know more about the mutation of this variant as well as the database like GISAID should be more readily use to share genome sequencing of the mutation and also report if such type of mutations occurs in the future.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.