It so happened that while we are preparing for the Newyear and decorate the Christmas trees, hundreds of thousands of people around the world are fighting for life in hospital and intensive care wards. The Covid-19 pandemic seems to have changed the way things are forever, killing more than a million people in a year. Unfortunately, as the experts of the World Health Organization (WHO) predicted, the pandemic will not end soon, and the constant mutations of SARS-CoV-2 only complicate the situation. So, due to a new strain of coronavirus, which was discovered in the United Kingdom and was named VUI-202012/01, a number of European Union countries (including the UK, which has not yet left the EU), have closed their borders and are preparing for large-scale lockdowns. I note that a new, more contagious strain of coronavirus infection was identified shortly after some countries around the world began to vaccinate. But if the virus has mutated, will newly developed vaccines be effective against it? Let's figure it out.
Why is the coronavirus mutating?
Despite the fact that viruses are not aliveorganisms, they are also characterized by evolution. As the ancestors of Homo Sapiens spread across the planet, a wide variety of viruses hone their skills, mutating and evolving. Interestingly, most new variants of viruses are dying out, but sometimes they become widespread in the population without altering the behavior of the virus in any way. Today, the coronavirus family comprises 43 RNA viruses, combined into two subfamilies that infect mammals, birds and amphibians. Of the 43 coronaviruses, only seven are affected.
Humanity's first acquaintance with coronavirusestook place in the mid-1960s - it was then that the HCoV-229E coronavirus, better known as Alphacoronavirus, was discovered. Since then, coronaviruses have firmly entered our lives, causing the well-known and well-known acute respiratory viral infections (ARVI). More aggressive strains of coronaviruses appeared much later, only in 2002. Then the world first heard the diagnosis of SARS and the names of its pathogens - the SARS and MERS coronaviruses.
Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, as ours probably knowregular readers, is a direct relative of their predecessors. According to numerous scientific studies, at least 70% of the COVID-19 genome coincides with the genome of the SARS and MERS viruses. And like any other virus, SARS-CoV-2 is evolving. My colleague Ramis Ganiev recently described in detail how the new strain differs from the previous ones, I recommend reading it.
Despite the fact that the new strain, according to scientistsis more infectious (but not more deadly, which is good), the global community is rightly wondering if newly developed vaccines will be effective against it.
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Vaccines and a new strain - what is known?
According to the British The Guardian, researcherscontinue to analyze all the data available to date to better understand the nature of the new strain. I note that this is a complex and painstaking work, during which scientists in laboratories will study the reaction of the new VUI-202012/01 strain to antibodies, as well as its cross-reactions with vaccines against COVID-19. According to preliminary data from British specialists, it will take at least two weeks.
Experts say that the emergence of a new strain is alarming - although previously it was already known about severalmutations COVID-19. So, in November, the Danish government destroyed millions of minks after it turned out that the animals were infected with the Sars-CoV-2 coronavirus. A month earlier, in October, research results showed that a variant of the coronavirus that originated in Spanish agricultural workers spread rapidly across Europe and accounted for the majority of cases in the UK. However, in neither of the two cases was it found that the mutated strains increase the transmission of the disease. Unlike VUI-202012/01.
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Now scientists around the world are faced with the question of whether the new version of the coronavirus can bypass the protection offered by the COVID-19 vaccines.
“If the new variant of the virus had a largeimpact on disease severity, we should have seen that by now, ”Evan Birney, deputy director general of the European Laboratory for Molecular Biology and co-director of its European Bioinformatics Institute in Cambridge, told The Guardian. He also noted that there is every reason to believe that all current COVID-19 vaccines will work against the new strain. Although - and this is obvious - we will find out the exact answer to this question after at least two weeks.
Also note that experts do not know exactly wherefor the first time a new strain has appeared. In our country, a new type of this dangerous disease has not yet been registered, and the incidence in large cities remains high. Remember to follow all the recommendations of the World Health Organization, wear masks in public and follow the rules of social distancing. Be healthy!