Mutations don’t worry – but the effect of the vaccine

A new mutated type of coronavirus has been discovered in Norway, Denmark, the United Kingdom and the United States. According to the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH), it can be more contagious.

A new, potentially more infectious species has been discovered in Finland. Before that, other species were found in the United Kingdom and South Africa, as well as in Brazil.

a stranger? never. Like all other viruses, Coronavirus is constantly changing and the more we look, the more variants we will find. Are the new variants more contagious? Possible and possible not. Should we be worried? On the contrary.

In any case, that is the opinion of Thomas Bergstrom, professor of clinical microbiology at the University of Gothenburg.

We’ll see new variants all the time. Because that’s what all viruses do, it changes. I would have been more concerned if only one species had dominated the entire Earth. Then I suspect it has found a special niche that makes it stable, he tells TT.

“Guesses”

The statements made so far about the possible contagion of these variants, for example by the Norwegian FHI, call them “speculations”.

It is difficult to know if a variant of the virus is more contagious than others. So far, Bergstrom says, I’ve only seen one study (of coronavirus) that did that and it was about the European variant that came here from China.

Trinidad and Tobago: But you see how the alleged British alternative takes over, right?

Yes, but that does not necessarily mean that it is more contagious. There is something in biology called a “founder effect” which basically means that what comes first somewhere spreads out. During a conference in the United States, 120 people were infected with the Coronavirus, which then infected 300,000 people. If it were a given variable, then that variable would have a very large spread. What could easily spread is due to chance, says Thomas Bergstrom.

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Plus, he says, it doesn’t matter much if one variant is slightly more infectious than the other. The measures we have taken to deal with the virus are the same anyway.

Sure, some variants are more contagious than others, but it will be a battle for the Pope’s beard. This virus has undergone its greatest improvement even before it began spreading across the Earth.

The vaccine is crucial

However, sequencing of the coronavirus is critical for us to find variants that the vaccine does not bite to.

– If we get a spread of infection among vaccinated people, then this means that we have a variant that managed to mutate outside the grip of the vaccine and then we must move to update the vaccine. That’s why we have this sequence in place, not to find new variants, says Bergstrom.

He says that the collective hype surrounding the different variants may be due to the fact that we can now – for the first time ever – follow the evolution of the virus in one form or another in real time, something that was not possible before.

It’s as if we have opened the door to an entirely new landscape where we can suddenly see how the virus is changing, in a way that we couldn’t before, says Bergstrom.

Johan Nelson / TT

The three variants that are now in focus are B.1.1.7 (first detected in the UK), B.1.351 (first detected in South Africa) and finally P.1 (first detected in Brazil).

Each of these variants carries a number of different mutations. Some mutations occur in several variants, such as E484K, which is a mutation that helps the virus escape from the immune system and is found in both B.1.351 (South Africa) and P.1 (Brazil).

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In addition, a variant was recorded in Norway and Denmark that is subject to the designation B.1.525 and has similarities with both the South African and British variants. Another variant – Fin-796 – was discovered in Finland.

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