New Covid variant: How dangerous is B1525?

New Covid variant: How dangerous is B1525?

02/16/2021

Variants put ‘vaccination programme at risk’ warns professor

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Mutated variants of SARS-CoV-19 have started taking root in the UK from various localities around the world. Brazil, South Africa and England have all identified local mutations, the UK more than most. Scientists recently identified a new Covid variant, which they have now named B1525.

How dangerous is B1525?

Researchers use genetic sequencing to find B1525, which has already started circulating in the UK.

A report released by the University of Edinburgh sequenced samples from 10 countries, including Denmark, the UK and Australia.

They identified 32 local cases, two of which come from Wales, and the rest from England.

B1525 seems biologically similar to the South African variant which raised concern amongst health officials earlier this year.

The E484K mutation, present both in the South African and Kent variants has also appeared in this one.

The alteration means it can more effectively infiltrate the immune system and replicate, causing infection.

The advantage has earned similar Covid mutants the title “variant of concern”, with additional fears E484K could help it bypass protections provided by the vaccine.

However, investigations started recently, and scientists do not yet understand the risks it poses.

As such, they have dubbed it a “variant under investigation”.

University of Cambridge professor and Government adviser Dr Ravi Gupta said the similarities between B1525 and the other variants should help predict how dangerous it is.

Dr Yvonne Doyle, director of Public Health England (PHE) said her agency has not yet identified any evidence of increased risk from the latest variant.

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Professor Doyle said: “PHE is monitoring data about emerging variants very closely and where necessary public health interventions are being undertaken, such as extra testing and enhanced contact tracing.

“There is currently no evidence that this set of mutations causes more severe illness or increased transmissibility.”

The core concern for health workers is when it comes to the vaccines.

But there is evidence they could also become more deadly.

Another British variant, first discovered in Kent, may have a higher fatality rate than the others.

Also known as B117, scientists said there was a “realistic possibility” the variant is both deadlier and more contagious.

They haven’t discovered what allows it to kill and infect more people, however.

B117 has travelled to at least another 82 countries and is 35 to 45 percent easier to transmit.

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