Pull Down Your Excitement Levels!!!
A new strain of novel Coronavirus is rebound to ruin your Christmas & New Year vibes.
On December 8, Scientists and public health experts of the U.K. presented data of a phyletic tree showing viral sequences from the county that looked very strange. Half the cases were caused by that one specific variant of SARS-CoV-2 were there, and it was highlighted on the perched tree that literally stuck out from the rest of the data by the name B.1.1.7
Meanwhile, scientists are working hard trying to figure out…Whether B.1.1.7 is really proficient in human transmission!
Experts are wondering how it evolved so fast. B.1.1.7 has acquired 17 mutations all at once, never seen before. Cases have been reported from other parts of the globe as well like Australia, Denmark and the Netherlands, with another aggressive strain in South Africa.
Now the fret is B.1.1.7 could cause more severe disease.
It is a matter of concern but still more data is required to reach at certain conclusions.
How do these virus mutations happen?
Mutations are a natural phenomenon in virus evolution. In the case of SARS-CoV-2, these mutations may arise due to random errors during virus replication, be induced by antiviral proteins within infected people, or via genetic shuffling – known as recombination. Though signs of recombination are not currently detected in SARS-CoV-2.
Most viral mutations are expected to have no serious impact on the human body.
Let’s understand with an example, when a team of experts assessed individual mutation replacements in more than 50,000 genomes from the very first wave of the pandemic, they didn’t detect any significant altered viral genome fitness.
However, mutations occur oftenly but rare combinations as in this case, a particular combination of mutations, may strike lucky and offer the virus a new advantage. Viruses carrying these combinations of mutations may then increase in frequency by natural selection given the right epidemiological environment.
What does this mean for the vaccine?
At the moment there is no sufficient data to conclude at any specifics.
Though authorities are continuously working to be reassured that vaccines stimulate a broad spectrum antibody response to the entire spike protein, so they can anticipate that their effectiveness will not be significantly impeded by mutations. This is already being tested.
However, it is vouched that other species of seasonal coronaviruses exhibit some ability to escape immunity over longer time periods.
There are chances that we reach a point where the need to update our COVID-19 vaccines becomes a necessity, as we do for influenza, to reflect the variants in circulation at the time.
It’s too early to say if this will be the case now, but extensive genome sequencing, data sharing, and standardised reporting of variants will be vital to inform these efforts.
Again countries across the globe are putting efforts to place the measures to control the virus and bring down the transmission.
India, along with nearly 30 other nations, issued a temporary ban on incoming flights from the UK. The ban will start from 23rd December and all passengers travelling from the UK will be tested on arrival.
Maharashtra has also acted, imposing a night curfew from 11 pm to 6 am till 5 January and quarantine for travellers from abroad.
STAY HOME & STAY SAFE!
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