The geneticist says the UK coronavirus variant is “on its way to sweeping the world”

The geneticist says the UK coronavirus variant is "on its way to sweeping the world"

Ron Votral receives a Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) vaccine at a Vaccination Site by Car in Robstown, Texas, February 9, 2021.

Joe Nakamura | Reuters

LONDON – The head of the United Kingdom’s genetic monitoring program said that one of the types of Coronavirus that first appeared in the United Kingdom, and has since been identified in more than 50 countries, could become the dominant form of the virus worldwide.

Professor Sharon Peacock, director of the Covid-19 Genomics UK Consortium, said: “The new version has engulfed the country and is likely to sweep the world.”

“In the future, I think the key will be if there is something (the alternative) that poses a particular problem with vaccines,” she told Newcast radio. Podcast.

The group headed by Peacock was set up in April 2020 and brings together prestigious experts and institutes to collect, sequence and analyze virus genomes, as part of the UK’s response to the pandemic. So far, she has traced the genetic history of More than 250,000 samples of the virus.

The consortium first discovered the most contagious type of virus, which it called “British variant” and officially known as “B1.1.7”, in Kent in southeast England, in September 2020 through a retrospective analysis of virus samples.

Viruses change all the time, but experts are concerned when the virus mutates to become more transmissible, as in this case, or more deadly. The higher infection rates associated with the variable identified in the UK are likely to result in more hospitalizations and, unfortunately, more deaths; As a result, containing it became a priority.

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The variant has spread rapidly throughout southeast England and London, and is now the predominant strain in the United Kingdom. It has also been detected in more than 50 countries, with health authorities scrambling to isolate cases, although it is believed that this much more virulent strain is already in circulation on wide range.

It is difficult to know the exact origin of the mutation, and given the work of the consortium, it was likely that new variants would be found in the UK (other countries with advanced genome sequences for the virus, such as Denmark and South Africa, have also discovered variants). Peacock, who is also a professor of public health and microbiology at the University of Cambridge, said she believes that sequencing of coronavirus variants will be required for at least 10 years.

To date, there have been more than 107 million cases of coronavirus and more than 2.3 million deaths worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Mutation mutation

Regardless of the type of virus that was first seen in southeast England, Two new variants appeared in a group of cases In the cities of Liverpool and Bristol, which are now being watched by scientists.

The Bristol variable has been classified as a “variable of concern” by the UK’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group.

Peacock said that although the mutant variants were a concern, the variant seen in and around Bristol has been in “confined areas and in very low numbers,” with only 21 cases detected so far.

“It is inevitable that the virus will continue to mutate, but what is worrisome is that the B1.1.7 variant that we have been trading for a few weeks and months has started to mutate again, getting new mutations, which could affect the way that we are dealing with the virus.” In terms of immunity and effectiveness of vaccines. “

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