'Mutant of new coronavirus' is showing signs of epidemic in the UK, experts explain new mutant

A variant of the new coronavirus was reported to be prevalent in parts of the United Kingdom on December 14, 2020, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson restricted going out during Christmas in some areas, including London, on 19th. It was revealed that it will be implemented . Dr. Lucy van Dorp of University College London, who is familiar with the evolution of pathogens, explains the variant of the new coronavirus that caused the tightening of regulations in the United Kingdom.

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In England, England, the regulations on new coronavirus measures were to be relaxed for five days from December 23, allowing up to three households to gather and spend Christmas. However, due to the spread of the infection in southeastern England, it has been banned from meeting people from other households indoors from the 20th in London and other areas, and deregulation will take place on the 25th in other areas as well. It will be limited to only. British officials have attributed the rapid spread of the infection to a mutated virus.

According to the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threat Advisory Group (NERVTAG) , an advisory body that advises the British government on health-related policies, 70% of new variants identified in the United Kingdom are 70% more than the previously mainstream new coronavirus. It is easy to get infected, and one infected person may push up the basic reproduction number (R0) , which indicates the value to spread the infection to the non-immunized population, by 0.4.

This variant has also been found in countries other than the United Kingdom, such as the Netherlands, Denmark, Italy, and Australia, and European countries are under pressure to take measures such as tightening immigration restrictions from the United Kingdom.

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In response to this situation, Dr. van Dorp explains 'questions about the new coronavirus mutant found in the United Kingdom' on The Conversation, an academic media.

◆ What do you know about new mutants?
The mutant found in the United Kingdom is named 'VUI-20 2012/01' or 'B.1.1.7' and was first identified in the state of Kent , England on September 20, 2020. Meanwhile, British Health Minister Matt Hancock announced B.1.1.7 on December 14th.

B.1.1.7 is a mutation of 14 places from the virus of Omoto has occurred, of which seven locations related to the entry into human cells spike protein is a mutation of. At the time of writing the article, the gene profile of B.1.1.7 is based mainly on the virus found in the United Kingdom, but cases have been confirmed in countries other than the United Kingdom such as Denmark and Australia, and B in other countries as well. The infection of 1.1.7 may be widespread.

In southeastern England, where the number of people positive for the new coronavirus is increasing rapidly, it is estimated that B.1.1.7 is spreading faster than the conventional type, but this has caused the infectivity of B.1.1.7 to increase. It cannot be concluded that it is stronger than conventional viruses. For example, there is a possibility that 'the area where B.1.1.7 appeared was an area where infection was likely to spread due to conditions such as human movement and environment', so it is necessary to carefully observe the situation in the future. Dr. Dorp pointed out.

◆ Are new mutants dangerous?
At the time of writing the article, researchers are still working on confirming the risk of B.1.1.7, but Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitti of the British government said, 'B.1.1.7 is a new coronavirus infection (B.1.1.7). There is no evidence to change the mortality or severity of COVID-19). '

◆ Why does the virus mutate?
It is natural for the virus to mutate, and in the case of the new coronavirus , mutations can be caused by errors during virus replication or by the infected person's antiviral protein .

Most mutations do not seem to have a significant effect, and a study conducted by Dr. van Dorp's research team on nearly 50,000 new coronavirus variants did not detect any mutations that significantly altered the fertility of the virus. That thing. However, sometimes certain variants are fortunate enough to bring new benefits to the virus, and mutations that have acquired unprecedented characteristics happen to adapt to the surrounding environment. It is said that it may increase the infectivity.

◆ Where did the new SARS-CoV-2 mutant come from?
Although the article creation time is unknown what came from where the B.1.1.7, studied the pattern of mutations result is, B.1.1.7 it is likely that the long-term evolution in the UK Is shown. In addition, a mutation pattern similar to B.1.1.7 was observed in the body of a patient with a weak immune system, and as a result of a single patient carrying the new coronavirus for a long period of time, it became B.1.1.7. It is possible that it caused a leading mutation.

◆ How many variants of SARS-CoV-2 have been confirmed?
Thousands of strains of the new coronavirus have already been identified, and at least 1000 variants have been identified in the United Kingdom. Examining the strains of mutants that are endemic at a particular time or region may be useful in investigating patterns of infection.

◆ Why is the mutant found this time a hot topic?
Many of the mutations present in B.1.1.7 have also been confirmed in the variants of the new coronavirus discovered so far, but B.1.1.7 is characteristic due to the overlap of many mutations. That thing. For example, the mutation 'N501Y' present in B.1.1.7 has been shown to increase the binding of cells to receptors, a variant different from B.1.1.7, which spreads in South Africa. It seems that it can also be seen in.

In addition, the peplomer mutation found in B.1.1.7 may alter the antigenicity of the virus, and there is also a gene mutation called 'ORF8' that is associated with reduced severity . It is not known at the time of writing the article what kind of functional effect the combination of mutations existing in B.1.1.7 will bring, and further research is needed.

◆ Is there any effect on the vaccine?
At the time of writing the article, it is unclear how B.1.1.7 affects the vaccine, but it seems that the effectiveness of the vaccine will not be significantly hindered by this variant. The UK has already investigated the efficacy of the vaccine against B.1.1.7, and no problems have been confirmed so far.

However, studies have shown that some human coronaviruses evolve their antigens like seasonal influenza, so it may be necessary to keep updating the new coronavirus vaccine as well as influenza. It's too early to tell if this will happen, but Dr. van Dorp argued that further efforts such as genomic sequence research, data sharing, and mutation reporting are needed.

in Science, Posted by log1h_ik