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The Emergence of COVID-19 Mutations and New Variants

Scientists are worried the worst of the COVID-19 is not over yet hoping we do not get to see a variant that will help the virus survive and reproduce rapidly!

There is a lot of good news with the COVID-19 vaccine rollout across the globe, but there is also a lot of bad news.

The bad news is the COVID-19 or coronavirus is fast mutating and new variants are emerging everywhere.

The virus is still spreading throughout the globe as we write this article.

As it spreading, the evidence is showing the virus that causes Covid-19 has been changing.

Reports say scientists are tracking those changes because they hope to stay one step ahead of the new strains.

However, we can see the strains are winning the fight with new ones showing up.

According to Knowable Magazine, these mutations occur largely at random.

And some variants will help the virus survive and reproduce. They are more likely to persist in the coming months.

And there are reports the variant that could make the virus more dangerous to us is yet to appear!

MINK VARIANT

In November, the World Health Organisation in a report said 214 human cases of COVID-19 were identified in Denmark.

The cases were detected in June 2020 and they presented SARS-CoV-2 variants associated with farmed minks.

The worrying factor is this variant, referred to as the “cluster 5” variant, had a combination of mutations, or changes that have not been previously observed.

WHO says preliminary findings indicate that this particular mink-associated variant identified in both minks and the 12 human cases has moderately decreased sensitivity to neutralizing antibodies.

The panic was contained though, in November, with the success of potential vaccine candidate being developed in Denmark.

In the early animal trial, it had proven effective against a mutated novel coronavirus strain from mink discovered in the country.

BRITAIN ON ALERT?

Other news reports say Britain is the most likely place in the world where a mutant strain of the coronavirus will occur.

A Conservative Party frontbencher Lord Bethell says, “if there’s one place where a mutant variation is likely to happen it will be in an area with a high infection rate and a large amount of suppression.

He says Britain is the most likely country for that to happen, as the country has a suppression programme of the virus by either a lockdown or a vaccine programme.

“We must be on the balls of our feet to be prepared for unhelpful news on that front,” he says.

A top scientist has also warned the risk of a dangerous new variant against which there was no defence was “eventually likely to be inevitable”.

In the UK, officials believe the country is not post-vaccine but is at best mid-vaccine.

NEW MUTATIONS

Scientists have analysed more than 550,000 viral genomes in more than 140 countries. The result reveals two new mutations each month.

Experts are saying one reason for this low mutation rate may be that COVID has a proofreading enzyme that catches and correct errors as it replicates.

The low mutation process makes it more dangerous than regular influenza. Normal influenza tends to replicate twice as fast.

Another result from the research shows that many of the mutations in SARS-COV-2 have occurred as a result of the virus battling with the immune systems of the human hosts.

That is why cutting-off its transmission is vital in the fight against the virus.

The good news so far is the virus mutations has far not impacted the way it behaves.

There have been little changes in the way COVID-19 attack the human body since the first time it was discovered in December 2019.

THE 8.1.1.7 STRAIN

The 8.1.1.7 strain, also known as the UK variant, was spreading rapidly in the UK.

But scientists now say its transmission was rapid because it occurred in places where social distancing was not observed.

Thus the virus was not becoming more transmissible in the UK because it had mutated dangerously.

But that does not mean the world is now safer from the virus than it was in December 2019.

One is almost certain is 8.1.1.7 can spread more easily between people.

The new strain rapidly acquires many mutations and one change in the strain makes it stick stronger to the hosts.

Another change, scientists say, may help it avoid detection by antibodies.

The 8.1.351 South African variant has also caught scientists attention.

The D614G that appeared in China in January this year is the subject of intense research.

Evidence shows it is more transmissible and infects the respiratory tract cells faster.

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