There are 17 mutations in the latest strain of Covid-19, scientists have found.
UK experts have studied the new coronavirus variant and claim they have discovered 17 alterations from the original killer disease strain, which they identified as a lot.’
Many of the modifications have happened to the spike protein of the virus, which it uses to lock onto human cells and cause disease.
This is critical because by targeting this protein, most Covid-19 vaccines that are being produced, including the Pfizer jab that has already begun to be rolled out in the UK, are successful.
If they have been infected with a different strain than the vaccine will protect them from, it is feared that this could stop individuals being immune to coronavirus.
Scientists including England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty have said there is “currently no evidence” that the new variant would stop the vaccine from functioning.
In Denmark and Australia, the strain has also been spotted.
Professor Nick Loman, from the University of Birmingham Institute of Microbiology and Infection, is a member of the Covid-19 Genomics UK Consortium in the UK that is researching mutations.
He said, In fact, there are 17 changes that would in some way affect the protein structure that distinguishes this variant from its common ancestor of other circulating variants, which is a lot.”
“They’re striking. There is a very long branch going back to the common ancestor, and why that is the case is a matter of great interest.
Most vaccines work to identify the virus’s spike proteins and attack them when the virus attempts to infect them by educating the immune system.
But it is possible that the virus will be able to slip through the body’s defenses if the spike proteins are altered by mutations.
The new strain, known as VUI – 202012/01, was first collected in Kent in September.
In cases in London and the South East of England that saw the capital and parts of Essex and Hertfordshire put in Tier 3 lockdown restrictions from today, it has been linked to the blast.
Over 1,000 confirmed cases of the latest strain have occurred, mainly in southern England. It has not disclosed the exact positions.