A new version of the coronavirus was found in the U.K, Nigeria, and another eleven countries, including the United States, a report from a team of researchers of the University of Edinburgh suggests.
The variant, known as B.1.125, includes a mutation in the spike protein, which helps the virus bind to and enter human cells. Scientists are afraid that the mutation may render the new vaccines less effective.
The mutation is also present in the coronavirus versions that were detected in South Africa and Brazil in the past, according to The Guardian.
Researchers believe that the E484K mutation may help the virus escape neutralizing antibodies, which bind to it and prevent it from infecting other cells, The Guardian reports.
Simon Clarke, an associate professor of cellular microbiology of the University of Reading, stated that the newly discovered mutation makes the South African version of the virus increasingly resistant to some vaccines. He is worried that the new variant could be somewhat resistant.
“We don’t yet know how well this [new] variant will spread, but if it is successful, it can be presumed that immunity from any vaccine or previous infection will be blunted,” Clarke stated.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that the viral variants from the U.K., South Africa, and Brazil are all more contagious than the virus’s initial strain.
Thankfully, that hasn’t been yet found accurate for the new variant.
Yvonne Doyle, the medical director at Public Health England, stated:
“There is currently no evidence that this set of mutations causes more severe illness or increased transmissibility.”
Unfortunately, gene sequencing revealed that the new variant is present in the U.K, too, according to government documents.