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COVID-19 virus variant spreads in many countries
COVID-19 virus variant spreads in many countries. The COVID-19 virus variant spreads in many countries, and the six core problems are here. In addition to the United Kingdom and South Africa, new variants of the new coronavirus have appeared in many countries.
Up to now, Portugal has discovered three new variants of the COVID-19 virus, and Brazil, Chile, Malaysia and other places have also reported the discovery of new variants of the COVID-19 virus. In addition, on December 23, local time, British Health Secretary Hancock held a press conference and stated that in addition to the new variants that appeared before, the UK has detected two cases of infection with another new variant of the new coronavirus.
Variations of the COVID-19 virus appear in many countries, and a new crisis is about to strike? Many countries have discovered new variants. What is the situation now?
On December 18, local time, South African Minister of Health Mukez announced that a new variant of the new coronavirus has been discovered in South Africa. He added, “The current evidence shows that the second wave of outbreaks in South Africa was mainly caused by this new variant.” The new variant has been named “501.V2”.
WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kefhof said at a press conference that the new variant found in South Africa contains mutations similar to the new variant in the UK, but it belongs to a separate variant. “They appear almost simultaneously, so it sounds like they are related. But in fact, it’s a separate variant.”
On December 19, local time, British Prime Minister Johnson said in a speech that due to the new variant of the new coronavirus, the number of confirmed cases in the UK has soared in the past two weeks. The variant was named “VUI-202012/01”.
Outside of the United Kingdom, the World Health Organization reported that cases of infection with new variants in the United Kingdom have been found in Australia, Iceland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Italy and Belgium.
A new variant of the new coronavirus from South Africa was discovered in the UK. / UK “The Independent” reported screenshots that the UK discovered a new variant of the new coronavirus from South Africa. /Screenshot of a report by The Independent
According to the “Guardian” report, on December 23, local time, British Health Secretary Matt Hancock stated at a press conference that following the previous discovery of a new variant of “VUI-202012/01”, the UK discovered a second variant. A new variant of the new coronavirus. According to the investigation, both patients have had contact with people who have traveled to South Africa. Hancock said that the new variant of the new coronavirus discovered in South Africa has arrived in the UK.
In order to effectively control the spread of the virus, the British government has decided to raise the level of prevention and control of the COVID-19 epidemic in more areas of eastern and southeastern England to the highest level 4 from December 26.
On December 23, local time, according to Ecuador’s “Business Daily”, a study by the Federal University of Espirito Santo found that a new variant of the COVID-19 virus appeared in Ecuador, which is suspected to be more infectious. The report pointed out that this variant has nothing to do with the new variant discovered in the UK, and is an independent variant.
Federal University of Espirito Santo has conducted 35,000 new coronavirus tests and discovered a total of 2 new variants of the new coronavirus. The first new variant was detected in July and was confirmed to be the first variant found in South America. The second new variant was detected in November.
Researchers at the National Institute of Health of Ricardo Jorge in Portugal collected samples of the new coronavirus from different periods in Portugal. After performing genome analysis, they found that the most common spread in Portugal is the new variants of the three new coronaviruses. The genetic mutations are A222V, S477N and S98F, three gene mutations are related to the spike protein.
Portugal has discovered three new variants of the new coronavirus. / “Portuguese News” report screenshot Portugal has discovered 3 new variants of the new coronavirus. / “Portuguese News” report screenshot
João Paulo Gomes, head of the Bioinformatics Group of the Department of Infectious Diseases of the Portuguese National Research Institute, pointed out that studies have proved that these three new variants are the main reasons for the second wave of the epidemic in Portugal.
On December 23, local time, the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, announced that a new variant of the new coronavirus has been found in the virus carried by infected patients in Rio de Janeiro. Brazilian researchers began to sequence the virus at the beginning of the year and analyzed a total of 180 viral genomes. The researchers pointed out that in October this year, the new variant was discovered for the first time in Rio de Janeiro, and the variant is expected to sprout in July.
Brazilian medical experts said that the infectivity of the new variant is still being evaluated, and no evidence has been found that the new variant of the new coronavirus will affect the effectiveness of vaccination.
On December 23, local time, the relevant research institution of the University of Magellan in Chile pointed out that a total of 9 new variants of the new coronavirus have been found in the Magellan region, of which one has not been found in other parts of the world and is highly infectious. The Magellan Region is one of the most severely affected areas in Chile.
On December 23, local time, Malaysian Ministry of Health Director Nur Hisham stated that a variant of the new coronavirus called “A701V” was discovered in Malaysia, but the clinical impact of this variant is still unclear.
The WHO released a video introducing the research status of new variants of the new coronavirus. /Twitter screenshot WHO released a video introducing the research status of new variants of the new coronavirus. /Twitter screenshot
On December 24th local time, the WHO released a video about the answers to questions about new variants of the new coronavirus. WHO experts said in the video that countries where new variants appear are actively monitoring and tracking the new variants. For example, the United Kingdom has launched a large-scale experiment to study whether the new variant will affect the transmission rate and mortality rate of new coronavirus pneumonia. In addition, the WHO emphasized that despite the mutation of the virus, the method of detecting the new coronavirus is still effective.
Six questions to clear up doubts, should we be afraid?
Q1: Is virus mutation common?
According to Nature Magazine The coronavirus is mutating — does it matter? The article introduces that when RNA-encoded viruses such as the new coronavirus and AIDS virus replicate in the host, the enzymes that replicate RNA are prone to errors, so these viruses are often prone to gene mutations. In addition, the new coronavirus is a single-stranded RNA, and its structure is more unstable than double-stranded, which also makes it more susceptible to mutation.
On December 23, local time, Liam Smith, a professor of clinical epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said, “RNA viruses are very easy to mutate, but most of the mutations are meaningless and do not require us to take additional measures.” .
The new coronavirus is mutating-does it matter? / Screenshot of an article in Nature magazine The new coronavirus is mutating-does it matter? / Screenshot of “Nature” magazine article
According to the Portuguese Newspaper, the research coordinator of the genetic diversity of the new coronavirus in Portugal also pointed out that “(virus mutation) is very common.” He added that “new variants will continue to appear in the future”.
Although the new coronavirus is very prone to mutation, the mutation speed is actually not as fast as influenza and other viruses. Emma Hodcroft, a molecular epidemiologist at the University of Basel in Switzerland, pointed out that test data show that the mutation rate of the new coronavirus is about half that of the influenza virus and one-fourth of the mutation rate of the HIV virus.
Q2: Will the new variant speed up the transmission rate?
The new variants currently found in the UK, South Africa, Ecuador, and Portugal seem to be more infectious, leading to an increase in infection cases. The new variants discovered in Brazil are still under further study.
According to the latest research data released by the World Health Organization, the transmission capacity of the new variant “VUI-202012/01” discovered in the UK has increased by 40% to 70% compared to the past. The infection cases are mainly people under 60.
Q3: Will the new variant cause the patient’s condition to become worse?
Portuguese researchers pointed out that from a clinical point of view, there is currently no evidence that the new variant will increase the fatality rate.
According to the Guardian, Ewan Birney, the deputy director of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, pointed out that “if the new variant will have a significant impact on the patient’s condition, then we should have seen this impact long ago.” Birney added, “ The number of severely ill patients has neither risen nor fallen sharply, which means that the new variant has no major impact on severely ill patients.”
Q4: Will the new variant cause the vaccine to fail?
Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer of England, said in an interview with The Guardian that the UK has shared information with the WHO and is analyzing the characteristics of the new variant. Scientists are cultivating new strains in the laboratory, studying its antibody response and the cross-reaction of new variants with the COVID-19 vaccine. In addition, health officials are also randomly sequencing confirmed cases across the country and drawing maps of infected areas.
What do we know about the two new variants discovered in the UK? / “Guardian” report screenshot. What do we know about the two new variants discovered in the UK? / Screenshot of “Guardian” report
Smith pointed out that there were no signs that the new variants would reduce the effectiveness of existing vaccines. Birney also said, “The current vaccine has been tested with many variants of the new coronavirus. Although more thorough testing is needed, we have reason to believe that the vaccine is still effective for the new variant.”
Q5: Can nucleic acid testing effectively identify new variants?
The principle of nucleic acid detection is to detect whether the sample provided by the public contains virus RNA. Among them, the most common method for detection of new coronavirus nucleic acid is to use fluorescent quantitative PCR (polymerase chain reaction) for detection.
According to the Science Media Center, Dr. Jeffrey Barrett, senior scientific consultant of the New Coronavirus Genome Project at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, said that multiple genomic targets will be used in PCR testing. This means that even if the virus has a genetic mutation, a combination test of multiple targets can still detect the virus. “I have not encountered a situation where only one target is used to detect the virus.”
Q6: In the face of new variants, how should the public respond?
Smith pointed out that there is a lot of evidence that the new variant spreads faster from person to person. This indicates that low-level prevention and control measures may not be effective. Therefore, in order to control the spread, all localities need to adopt more stringent prevention and control measures. Smith believes that the UK’s escalation of lockdown measures is an appropriate response to the new coronavirus variant.
Jonathan Stoyer, head of the Retrovirus-Host Interaction Laboratory of the Francis Crick Institute in the United Kingdom, said in an interview with the Science Media Center, “In fact, the way viruses spread from person to person is different. No change. Viruses will always evolve, but complying with the rules of hygiene and epidemic prevention and maintaining social distancing is still the most effective way to prevent transmission.”