The new Indian variant of the COVID virus which has been detected in the UK has all the hallmarks of a very dangerous virus.
It has two important new mutations in the spike protein that help it infect cells and evade the immune system.
New figures from Public Health England (PHE) 73 cases have been detected in England and four more in Scotland.
The variant – officially named B.1.617 – is almost certainly playing a role in the very strong outbreak in India.
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It has been detected in at least five Indian states which are hot spots for the surge, with over 200,000 new cases of COVID detected nationwide on Wednesday.
One of the mutations of concern, called L452R, is also found in a variant circulating in California, although there is no link between the viruses. The Indian variant evolved independently.
The other mutation of the virus is completely new. It is at the same “484” position in the spike protein which is also mutated in the South African variant, and a few others. But the actual mutation – E484Q – is slightly different.
Laboratory tests show that both mutations help the virus infect human cells and escape certain antibodies.
The combination – called a double mutant – is of particular concern.
At the moment, it is not known what impact they would have on the effectiveness of existing vaccines.
The discovery of so many cases …
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This notice was published: 2021-04-16 09:12:00