A brand new variant of Covid-19 with over 30 spike mutations has been reported from southern Africa. On November 23, Dr. Tom Peacock, a virologist at Imperial College London, posted the small print of the variant on github.com, noting that the “incredibly high amount of spike mutations suggest this could be of real concern (predicted escape from most known monoclonal antibodies)”
Assigned as B.1.1.529, the variant was first noticed in Botswana and the opposite circulating nations are Hong Kong and South Africa. According to The Guardian, solely 10 circumstances have been confirmed by genomic sequencing.
Dr. Tom Peacock tweeted that the variant needs to be monitored as a consequence of its “horrific spike profile”.
Just noticed: very small cluster of variant related to Southern Africa with very lengthy department size and actually terrible Spike mutation profile together with RBD – K417N, N440K, G446S, S477N, T478K, E484A, Q493K, G496S, Q498R, N501Y, Y505Hhttps://t.co/kgA9c1hKDa
— Tom Peacock (@PeacockFlu) November 23, 2021
According to WHO, at the moment, solely 4 variants of the coronavirus are designated as variants of concern – Alpha (lineage B.1.1.7, the so-called ‘UK variant’), Beta (lineage B.1.351, the so-called ‘South Africa variant’), Gamma (lineage P.1, the so-called ‘Brazil variant’) and Delta (lineage B.1.617.2).
“Worth emphasising this is at super low numbers right now in a region of Africa that is fairly well sampled, however, it very very much should be monitored due to that horrific spike profile (would take a guess that this would be worse antigenically than nearly anything else about),” Dr. Peacock mentioned.
The mutation P681H seen within the new variant has additionally been reported in Alpha, Mu, some Gamma, and B.1.1.318 variants. The new variant additionally carries the N679K mutation which has been reported in lots of different variants. Dr. Peacock tweets: “This is the first time I’ve seen two of these mutations in a single variant”
The new variant additionally carries a mutation known as N501Y which has been reported in different variants of concern. Studies have proven that this mutation helps the variant be extra transmissible. It additionally permits the virus to readily bind to the human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptors.
It additionally carries the P681H mutation, one of many generally recognized spike mutations in SARS CoV-2, which boosts the transmissibility of the virus. The D614G mutation which has been reported to extend virus infectivity was additionally seen within the new variant.
Dr. Divya Tej Sowpati from CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology mentioned that solely only a few genomic sequences of the brand new variant can be found and extra research are wanted. “The variant is currently being monitored,” he says.