Wed. Jul 10th, 2024

UK urgently imposes restrictions because of ‘worst’ mutation

UK urgently imposes restrictions because of 'worst' mutation 3
UK urgently imposes restrictions because of 'worst' mutation 3

The British Health Security Agency said on November 25 that B.1.1.529 has a spike protein that is different from the protein in the original virus strain that vaccines use to create immunity, so it can weaken its effectiveness.

B.1.1.529 was only first identified earlier this week, but Britain has rushed to impose travel restrictions on South Africa and five other African countries, acting much more quickly than with previous variants.

`As far as we know there is a significant amount of mutation, perhaps double the amount of mutation that we saw in the Delta variant,` Health Secretary Sajid Javid said.

A sign asking to maintain a distance of 2 meters to prevent Covid-19 in Leicester, England in May. Photo: Reuters.

Javid said more data was needed, but travel restrictions were necessary as a precaution, as scientists said laboratory studies were needed to assess the likelihood of mutations leading to

South Africa on November 25 confirmed the discovery of the B.1.1.529 strain with a very high mutation rate, causing infections to flare up again.

South Africa requested an emergency meeting with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) virus evolution research group on November 26 to discuss the new mutation.

The B.1.1.529 strain has 32 mutations in the spike protein, the part that most vaccines use to prime the immune system against nCoV.

Ravi Gupta, professor of clinical microbiology at the University of Cambridge, UK, said research in his laboratory found two mutations of B.1.1.529 that increase the infectiousness and reduce the ability to recognize resistance.

`Initial evidence from genetic sequencing in South Africa shows that B.1.1.529 is very worrying,` said Ewan Birney, deputy director general of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory.

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