COVID-19: New coronavirus variant B.1.1.529 identified in Botswana as scientists downplay concerns | World news | MCU Times

COVID-19: New coronavirus variant B.1.1.529 identified in Botswana as scientists downplay concerns | World news

A new variant of coronavirus with a “constellation” of mutations has been identified in Botswana.

Named B.1.1.529, researchers are still unclear whether existing antibodies would respond well to the variant – which has 32 peak protein mutations.

Tom Peacock, a virologist at Imperial College London, called the mutations “really terrible”.

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Nail proteins are what viruses use to penetrate human cells, and some of the vaccines work by training the body to recognize the tips and neutralize them.

Mutations at the tip can therefore potentially prove to be problematic for mRNA doses, such as Pfizer and Moderna.

But with only a handful of recorded cases – three in Botswana, six in South Africa and one in Hong Kong from a person traveling from South Africa – the researchers are hopeful, COVID cases caused by the new virus the example will not be widespread.

Francois Balloux, professor of computational systems biology at University College London, said: “At the moment it should be closely monitored and analyzed, but there is no reason to be overly concerned unless it starts to increase in frequency in the near future.”

She added that the “constellation” of mutations on B.1.1.529 could be due to the fact that it “developed during a chronic infection in an immunocompromised person, possibly in an untreated HIV / AIDS patient”.

It comes amid reports that England may be closer to the “end” of the pandemic than any other European country.

Researchers reckon that high vaccination and infection rates mean that there is now a high level of immunity.

According to The Times, researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine estimate that – if all restrictions and vaccinations cease immediately – England would have around 10,000 more COVID deaths compared to its population of 56 million.

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This is to be compared with the estimated 114,000 in Germany – population 83.2 million – and 16,000 in Greece – population 10.7 million.

Researchers have not directly studied Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, but they expect similar figures for England.

According to Johns Hopkins University, the UK has had 144,728 COVID-related deaths, Germany 100,123 and Greece 17,612 so far.

Lloyd Chapman, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said the reason England had better prospects going forward was due to higher infections in the past.

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“In a way, we paid a very high price for being further on the path to having a high level of immunity in the population,” he said.

“Whether it was the right strategy or not, I think in a way only time will tell.”

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