A new version of supermutant Covid that sparked fear of the other constipation in the UK it may have occurred in an HIV patient in Africa, it is the most developed version so far and could make the stings much weaker.
Scientists believe that its extensive mutations mean it must originate from a severely immunocompromised patient, perhaps an undiagnosed person with AIDS.
It has more than 30 mutations, giving it all the portability of the currently dominant Delta strain and the same ability to evade vaccines as the old South African version of Beta.
Experts fear that a new version called B.1.1.529 could make vaccines at least 40 percent less effective because it differs from the original strain for which the vaccines were intended.
The British were warned that there could be a Christmas jail, with one of the vaccine advisers no. 10 noted that “we must all be prepared” to reintroduce restrictions.
Here’s everything we know about the version so far:
What’s so troubling about the variant?
Not much is known about the new strain yet, but the number of mutations it carries has alarmed scientists.
The variant has more than 30 mutations – the most commonly recorded and twice as many as the currently dominant Delta strain. One scientist said that because of these changes, this version has become the worst so far.
Experts fear that the changes could reduce the vaccine’s effectiveness by 40 percent at best, as the new version of the virus better evades the protection provided by the stings.
This is because there are so many changes to B.1.1.529 on the viral spike protein. The current vaccine yield triggers the body to recognize a version of spike protein from older versions of the virus.
However, because the spike protein in the new strain looks so different, the immune system may find it difficult to recognize it and fight it.
It also includes mutations that make it easier to spread.
Experts warn that for at least two weeks they will not know how much more contagious the virus is, and they may not know its impact on Covid’s hospitalizations and deaths for up to six weeks.
Will this affect Christmas in the UK?
Experts say it will be weeks before they know how worrying the new version is, so it’s not yet clear what additional steps they might need to take.
The only action the government has taken so far has been to add six countries to the red list.
But Professor Adam Finn, a member of the Joint Vaccination and Immunization Committee (JCVI), said new restrictions could not be ruled out.
For good morning, Britain said on ITV: “On the one hand, I don’t want to cause unnecessary anxiety in people, but on the other hand, I think we all need to be prepared for the possibility of changing the restrictions.”
Where has the variant been discovered so far?
The variant has so far been observed in four countries: South Africa, Botswana, Hong Kong and Israel.
Belgian health chiefs said the country has two suspected cases caused by the new strain.
Most of the cases were observed in Gauteng, a province in northeastern South Africa.
The first case was uploaded by Hong Kong to an international version database, and was spotted by someone traveling to the country from South Africa.
No cases were observed in the United Kingdom. But scientists are not sequencing every positive sample of Covid in the UK, and not everyone who infects the virus will pass the test.
This means that people could be infected with the UK version.
What is the UK doing about the version?
The Minister of Health announced last night that six countries would be added to the red list from noon on 26 November.
The countries on the red list are: South Africa, Botswana, Esvatini, Lesotho, Namibia and Zimbabwe. This means that all direct flights from these countries to the UK are prohibited.
Anyone arriving in England between noon and 4am on Sunday from these countries – or who has been in countries for the past 10 days – must complete a passenger quarantine form, quarantined at home and take a PCR test.
Anyone arriving from these countries after 4am on a Sunday must stay for 10 days in a managed quarantine hotel and take the Covid test on or before the second day of their stay and another test on the eighth day or later.
What mutations does the variant have?
The Botswana version contains mutations in K417N and E484A, similar to those in the South African version of “Beta,” which allowed it to better avoid vaccines.
It also has the N440K found on the Delta and the S477N, in the New York version, which are also linked to antibody leaks.
The version also has mutations in P681H and N679K, which are “rarely seen together” and could be made even more impact-resistant.
And the N501Y mutation, which makes viruses more transmissible and has been observed in Kent versions of ‘Alpha’ and Beta, among others.
Other mutations it has include G446S, T478K, Q493K, G496S, Q498R and Y505H, although their significance is not yet clear.
Will I be protected if I have an amplifier?
Scientists have warned that the new strain could make vaccines 40 percent less effective.
However, they say that because of the emergence of the mutant version, it is even more important to get a life-giving sting as soon as people become eligible for it.
Vaccines trigger neutralizing antibodies, which is the best protection available against the new version. So the more a person has these antibodies, the better, experts say.
When will we find out more about the variant?
Data on how transmissible the new variant is and its impact on hospitalizations and deaths are still weeks away.
The UK has offered help to South Africa, where most cases are concentrated, to gather this information and believe they will learn more about portability in two to three weeks.
But it may be four to six weeks before they learn more about hospitalizations and deaths.
What is the variant called?
The strain is scientifically known as B.1.1.529, but has not yet been given a name based on the letters of the Greek alphabet.
Versions that have been officially named so far include Alpha, Beta, Delta and Gamma.
Experts at the World Health Organization today are holding emergency meetings on the variant, among which it is to be named. You could call it a ‘Nu’ variant.