UK records another 1,401 coronavirus deaths in 24 hours
Technically called 20I/501Y.V1, the coronavirus B117 strain has undergone various mutations which has increased its transmissibility. There has been many developments recently in determining what is means in terms of disease severity. The latest paper from the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) reported on the B117 variant. Published on Friday, January 22, the report said the variant of concerns (B117) has now become “the most dominating variant in much of the UK”.
Initial research by Public Health England (PHE) suggested the B117 mutant caused “no significant difference in the risk of hospitalisation or death” in people infected with it.
However, as time has pressed on, new analyses have found “consistent” evidence that the B117 mutant leads to “increased disease severity in people”.
This is based on different research studies conducted by Imperial College London, University of Exeter and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
All three institutions came to the same conclusion that the B117 strain demonstrated more disease severity in people infected by the virus.
However, there are “several limitations to these datasets including representativeness of death data, power, and potential biases”.
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Yet based on the emerging evidence gathered by NERVTAG, they’ve concluded that “there is a realistic possibility” that the B117 variant is “associated with an increased risk of death”.
NERVTAG added: “It should be noted that the absolute risk of death per infection remains low.”
The organisation emphasised that the “time lag from infection to hospitalisation and death is relatively long”.
Therefore, “data will accrue in coming weeks, at which time the analyses will become more definitive”.
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explained the worrisome mutations in the B117 variant.
The receptor binding domain of the spike protein at “position 501” has changed.
What would have been the amino acid asparagine (N) has now been replaced with tyrosine (Y).
There is also a mutation in “ORF8” – “the function of which is unknown” and is still under investigation.
The CDC is currently concerned how the disease caused by B117 “differs from the disease caused by other variants that are currently circulating”.
There’s also intrigue as to how troublesome variants will affect existing vaccines.
Another troubling variant is the South African variant that shares “some mutations with B117”.
Known as B.1.351, the latest evidence on this mutant strain indicates that it may “affect neutralisation of antibodies”.
The Brazilian variant – known as P.1 – contains a number of additional mutations that “may affect its ability to be recognised by antibodies”.
The P.1 lineage contains “17 unique amino acid changes and three deletions”.
There are three mutations on the spike protein receptor binding domain: K417T, E484K, and N501Y.
Concern is heightened for this mutant as its effect on antibodies puts into question the effectiveness of vaccinations.
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