UK finds spiked proteins in the Coronavirus variant
Tests show they have a mutation, called E484K, that is already seen in the South Africa variant. A study provides insights on how the new strains of COVID may have originated. All three of the new strains have changes to their spike protein which make them more transmissible, deadly, or immune-resistant.
Scientists found a small number of cases of the UK ‘Kent’ variant with the E484K mutation – it was seen in 11 out of 214,159 samples that they tested, and predominantly from the South West of England. Researchers have now found that it is actually people with weak immune systems who become the breeding grounds for these mutated strains.
“This doesn’t appear to be great news for vaccine efficacy,” said Joseph Fauver, associate research scientist in epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health. It’s not unexpected that variants are appearing or that they will continue to change – all viruses mutate as they make new copies of themselves to spread and thrive.
The B.1.1.7 strain first spotted in the UK has now been found in at least 70 countries worldwide, including about 470 known cases in the US, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.