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Will current Covid vaccine work against New UK Covid-19 Strain?
I have received some questions regarding the New UK Covid-19 Strain which was found in the UK. So I have decided to compile them here and answer them one by one. If you have any question, you can ask here on our page Free Health Consultation, I will add them here later.
Q. What is this New UK Covid-19 Strain? From where it came?
Answer. This New UK Covid-19 Strain is a variety of SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19). This is another mutated form of coronavirus named as B.1.1.7 or SARS-CoV-2 VOC 202012/01. Coronavirus has a family of 7 viruses which include SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19) along with other dangerous varieties like SARS, MERS.
Coronavirus is an RNA virus, which means it’s genome is made up of RNA (Ribonucleic acids). One speciality of RNA viruses is that they undergo a lot of mutations over time, again and again. And coronavirus genome is 3 times larger than any other RNA virus so the number of mutations is more than any other RNA virus.
Mutations happen all the time. This is nothing new. Likewise, this Covid-19 strain which was found in the UK has undergone mutation. In fact, as of now it has already undergone 2 mutations in a month and will undergo more in the future. When the coronavirus outbreak happened in China, there were already 2 main mutations which resulted in the appearance of 2 strains of Coronavirus i.e L and S strain.
Read more about coronavirus here.
Q. Why they have undergone a mutation? Does our genome also undergo mutation?
Answer. As I said, their genome is bigger than other RNA viruses. So when a single coronavirus infects and invades our cell, the infected cell will make another 1000 copies of new virus and that too under the time period of 12 hours. Due to this rapid multiplication, there is always chances of some error/mutation during their replication which we called as mutation. Do human cells also mutate? Yes, they do. But we have a safety mechanism in our DNA which detects these mutations and fixes them. And if the mutation can’t be fixed this mechanism kills the cell. But sadly this mechanism is not present in RNA viruses. Therefore mutation is carried out in new viruses
Q. So what is the mutation which this virus has undergone?
Answer. This strain has undergone about 23 mutations in 5 different genes. Coronavirus needs a spike protein to attach itself to our cells. The main mutation has happened in this spike protein due to which it’s affinity to bind receptors, present on our cells, has increased. In short, it can attach and invade our cells more easily. That means the transmission rate of this virus is more than the previous strain so it spreads faster than previous ones
Q. Can we detect this new strain with already available tests for Covid-19?
Answer. Absolutely yes. That’s how we have detected new cases of this new covid strain. Same RT-PCR test can be done to detect this variety also.
Q. Will this cause another surge or wave of new covid-19 cases?
Answer. There’s a possibility. Because it spreads faster, the number of cases will be more if people won’t follow safe distancing, hand washing practices and use of face mask. Also, there is a large number of immunocompromised people in India. These people normally take more time to recover, which provides the virus more time to undergo more mutations and transmission.
Q. Is this variety more dangerous than the other varieties?
Answer. Till now no study has yet shown whether it is more dangerous or causes more severe infection than previous ones. We just know that it spreads easily and faster. The complications will be the same as caused by previous varieties.
Q. Now the big question. We already have many vaccines under development. Will this mutation affect the efficacy of any of these vaccines? Will they still be as effective as they are supposed to be against a previous variety of Covid-19?
Answer. As of now, The vaccines are effective against all mutants and variants of Covid-19. Researchers in the US and all over the world have already done experiments on the new strains and they found that vaccines work against new strains also.
Q. Are there any other mutations happening in Covid-19 virus?
Answer. Yes. They are happening in different locations like 501.V2 in South Africa, P681H in India. In fact, 14% of SARS-C0V-2 which is circulating in India is carrying this P681H mutation, especially in Maharashtra and West Bengal.
- SARS CoV2 (COVID19)- China, Wuhan (2019)
- B.1.1.7 – UK Variant (2020)
- B.1.351 – South African (more spread, more infection)
- P.1 – Brazil Variant (2020)
- B.1.617 – DOUBLE MUTANT VARIANT (DEC-MARCH 2021)
- B.1.618 – triple mutant, Bengal strain (April 2021)
- A deletion and two changes in spike protein
- deletion of H146 and Y145
- Mutation in E484K and D614G in spike protein
Q. What is being done to control the spread of this new virus strain?
Answer. All those guidelines and protocols which we have followed for previous strains will remain effective against this variety also. WHO has advised that 1 out of 300 confirmed cases of covid infection should be tested for this new strain also. Moreover, those who came out positive with new strain are being quarantined along with their contacts. Tracing of their contacts is being done and appropriate measures are being taken by their respective states.