There are many variations of the coronavirus around the world, but health experts are mainly concerned about the emergence of three variations that were first discovered in the UK, South Africa and Brazil. They seem to spread more easily, and research is being conducted to see if they cause more serious diseases.
When a virus infects a human, it mutates as it replicates itself. Some mutations may be harmful to the virus and cause the virus to die. Others can provide advantages and help spread.
Mary Petrone, a major in infectious disease research at Yale University, said: “Not every mutation is created equal.”
Monitoring variants is important because they may reduce the effectiveness of vaccines and treatments or change the way they infect people.
Ohio State University biologist Daniel Jones said that mutations in the early stages of the pandemic exacerbated the spread of the virus around the world, but there has been no significant change since then until recently.
One of the three main variants observed by experts was discovered in the UK at the end of last year and has since been discovered in dozens of countries. Health officials initially stated that it did not appear to cause more serious illnesses, but some new information suggests that it may cause illnesses-it is still unclear. It does seem to spread more easily, which may lead to more hospitalizations and deaths.
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this variant may dominate the United States in March.
Experts say that other variants first discovered in South Africa and Brazil are also more contagious.
The data to date shows that despite some concerns that its effectiveness may decrease slightly, current vaccines should still protect against these variants. There is evidence that certain antibody treatments may not be effective for certain variants.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top US infectious disease expert, said that there are many ways to adjust vaccines and treatments to maintain their effectiveness.
Since infection gives the virus a chance to mutate and spread, the emergence of variants is related to the continued epidemic. Experts emphasize another reason for the importance of wearing masks and being away from society.
Jones said: “The fewer people carrying this virus, the less chance it has to mutate.”
The following is an evaluation of the three most relevant variants by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- In the United Kingdom (UK), a new variant of SARS-CoV-2 with a large number of mutations (called 20I/501Y.V1, VOC 202012/01 or B.1.1.7) appeared. Since then, this variant has been detected in many countries in the world including the United States (US). In January 2021, scientists from the United Kingdom reported evidence This indicates that the B.1.1.7 variant may be associated with an increased risk of death compared with other variants. More research is needed to confirm this finding. According to reports, the variant will be available in the United States at the end of December 2020.
- In South Africa, another variant of SARS-CoV-2 (called 20H/501Y.V2 or B.1.351) appeared independently of B.1.1.7. This variant shares some mutations with B.1.1.7. Cases attributed to this variant have been found in multiple countries outside of South Africa. This variant was reported in the United States at the end of January 2021.
- In Brazil, a variant of SARS-CoV-2 (called P.1) appeared. The variant was first discovered in four passengers from Brazil who were tested during routine inspections at Haneda Airport outside Tokyo, Japan . This variant has 17 unique mutations, including three in the receptor binding domain of the spike protein. This variant was discovered in the United States in January 2021.