In addition to the United Kingdom and South Africa, new variants of the novel coronavirus have emerged in many countries.
So far, three new variants of the novel coronavirus have been found in Portugal, and Brazil, Chile, Malaysia and other places have also reported the discovery of new variants of the novel coronavirus.
In addition, on December 23rd local time, British Health Secretary Hancock held a press conference and said that in addition to the previous new variant, two cases of infection with another new variant of the novel coronavirus have been detected in the United Kingdom.
Coronavirus variants appear in many countries, and a new crisis is coming?
New varieties have been found in many countries. How is it now?
On December 18th, local time, South African Health Minister Mukez announced that a new variant of the novel coronavirus had been discovered in South Africa.
He added, “Current evidence shows that the second wave of the epidemic in South Africa is mainly caused by this new variant”. The new variety has been named 501. V2″.
“The new variant found in South Africa contains mutations similar to the new variant in the United Kingdom, but it is a separate variant,” WHO epidemiologist Maria van Kefhoff said in a press conference.” They appear almost simultaneously, so they sound like they are related. But in fact, it is a separate variant.
On December 19th local time, British Prime Minister Johnson said in a speech that the number of confirmed cases in the UK has soared in the past two weeks due to the new variant of the novel coronavirus. This variant is named VUI-202012/01.
Outside the UK, the World Health Organization reports that new variants of infection with the UK have been found in Australia, Iceland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Italy and Belgium.
According to the Guardian, on December 23 local time, Matt Hancock, the British Health Secretary, said at a press conference that the second new variant of the novel coronavirus was discovered in the United Kingdom after the previous discovery of a new variant of “VUI-202012/01”.
According to the survey, both patients have been in contact with people with a history of travel in South Africa. Hancock said that new variants of the novel coronavirus found in South Africa have arrived in the UK.
In order to effectively control the spread of the virus, the British government has decided to raise the level of COVID-19 prevention and control in more parts of eastern and southeastern England to the highest level four from December 26.
On December 23rd local time, according to the Ecuadorian Business Daily, a study by the Federal University of Espírito Sant found that a new variant of the novel coronavirus appeared in Ecuador, suspected to be more infectious.
The report points out that this variant has nothing to do with the new variant found in the UK, and is a separate variant.
The Federal University of Espírito Santo has conducted a total of 35,000 tests for the novel coronavirus, and a total of two new variants of the novel coronavirus have been found.
The first new variant was detected in July and proved to be the first variant found in South America. The second new variant was detected in November.
Researchers at the Ricardo Jorge National Institute of Health in Portugal collected samples of COVID-19 from different periods in Portugal.
After genome analysis, it was found that the most common transmission in Portugal is currently three new variants of the novel coronavirus, with genetic variations in A222V, S477N and S98F. All three gene mutations are related to spinon protein.
João Paulo Gomes, head of the Bioinformatics Group of the Department of Infectious Diseases of the Portuguese National Institute, pointed out that the study proved that these three new variants were the main causes of the second wave of the epidemic in Portugal.
On December 23rd local time, the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, announced that a new variant of the novel coronavirus had been found in the virus carried by infected patients in Rio de Janeiro.
Brazilian researchers began to sequence the virus at the beginning of the year, analyzing a total of 180 viral genomes.
Researchers pointed out that a new variant was first discovered in Rio de Janeiro in October this year, and the variant is expected to have sprouted in July.
Brazilian medical experts said that the infectivity of the new variants is still being evaluated, and no evidence has been found that new variants of the novel coronavirus will affect the effectiveness of vaccination.
On December 23rd local time, relevant research institutions of the University of Magellan in Chile pointed out that a total of nine coronavirus mutant viruses have been found in Magellan, one of which has not been found in other parts of the world and is highly infectious.
Magellanic Region is one of the worst affected areas in Chile.
On December 23 local time, Noor Hisham, director of the Malaysian Ministry of Health, said that a variant of the novel coronavirus called “A701V” had been found in Malaysia, but the clinical impact of the variant is still unclear.
On December 24th local time, WHO released a question-answer video on new variants of the novel coronavirus. WHO experts said in the video that countries with new variants are actively monitoring and tracking new variants.
For example, the United Kingdom has launched a large-scale experiment to study whether the new variety will affect the spread and lethality of COVID-19. In addition, WHO emphasizes that despite the mutation of the virus, the way to detect the novel coronavirus is still effective.
Six questions to explain, should we be afraid?
Q1: Is viral mutation common?
According to Nature magazine The coronavirus is mutating — does it matter? The article introduces that when COVID-19, HIV and other RNA-encoded viruses are replicated in the host, because the enzymes that copy RNA are very easy to make mistakes, these viruses are often prone to genetic mutations.
In addition, COVID-19 is a single-stranded RNA, and its structure is more unstable than that of double-strands, which also makes it more prone to mutation.
On December 23 local time, Liam Smith, professor of clinical epidemiology at the London School of Health and Tropical Medicine, said, “RNA viruses are very prone to mutations, but most mutations are meaningless and do not require us to take additional measures.”
The Portuguese Coordinator for the Study of Genetic Diversity of COVID-19 also noted that “[the mutation of the virus] is very common,” according to the Portuguese News. He added that “new varieties will appear in the future”.
Although the novel coronavirus is very prone to mutation, it is not as fast as viruses such as influenza. Emma Hodcroft, a molecular epidemiologist at the University of Basel in Switzerland, pointed out that the test data showed that the mutation rate of the novel coronavirus was about half that of the influenza virus and a quarter of the rate of HIV mutation.
Q2: Will the new variety speed up the spread rate?
At present, new variants found in the United Kingdom, South Africa, Ecuador and Portugal seem to be more infectious, resulting in an increase in infection cases.
New variants found in Brazil are still under further study.
According to the latest research data released by WHO, the transmission capacity of the new “VUI-202012/01” variant found in the United Kingdom has increased by 40% to 70% compared with the previous cases, mainly among people under the age of 60.
Q3: Will the new variant cause the patient’s condition to worsen?
Portuguese researchers point out that from a clinical point of view, there is no evidence that the new variant will increase the lethality rate.
According to The Guardian, Ewan Birney, deputy director of the European Laboratory of Molecular Biology, said, “If the new variants would have a significant impact on the patient’s condition, then we should have seen the impact long ago.” Birney added, “The number of severe patients has neither increased nor decreased significantly, which means that the new variant has no significant impact on severe patients.”
Q4: Will the new variant cause the vaccine to fail?
Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, said in an interview with The Guardian that the UK has shared information with the WHO and is conducting an analysis of the characteristics of the new variant.
Scientists are developing new strains in the laboratory to study their antibody response and the cross-response of new varieties with the coronavirus vaccine. In addition, health officials are randomly sequencing confirmed cases across the country and mapping the infected areas.
Smith noted that no indications have been found that new variants would reduce the effectiveness of existing vaccines. Birney also said, “The vaccine has been tested with many variants of the novel coronavirus.
Although more thorough testing is needed, we have reason to believe that the vaccine is still effective for the new variants.
Q5: Can nucleic acid detection effectively identify new varieties?
The principle of nucleic acid detection is to detect whether the samples provided by the people contain viral RNA.
Among them, the most common method of detection of COVID-19 nucleic acid is to use fluorescence quantitative PCR (polymerase chain reaction).
According to the Center for Scientific Media, Dr. Jeffrey Barrett, senior scientific consultant of the COVID-19 Genome Project at the Wycomanger Institute, said multiple genomic targets are used in PCR testing.
This means that even if the virus has a genetic mutation, multiple target combination tests can still detect the virus.” I haven’t encountered a situation where only one target is used to detect the virus.”
Q6: How should the public deal with the new variant?
Smith pointed out that there is a lot of evidence that the new variants spread faster from person to person. This shows that low-level prevention and control measures may be difficult to work.
Therefore, in order to control transmission, localities need to take stricter prevention and control measures. Smith believes that Britain’s upgraded lockdown measures are an appropriate response to the coronavirus variants.
Jonathan Stoyer, director of the Retrovirus-Host Interaction Laboratory of the Francis Crick Institute in the United Kingdom, told the Center for Scientific Media, “In fact, the way the virus spreads from person to person has not changed.
The virus will always evolve, but adhering to health and epidemic rules and social distancing remain the most effective way to prevent transmission.”