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First South African Coronavirus Variant Spotted in Canada

The COVID-19 pandemic continues in all parts of the world implying new threats with the recently identified mutated coronavirus strains. Canada is also added to the list of countries that have confirmed the presence of the South African variant which is by far the most deadly and contagious than all mutated coronavirus versions.

This confirmation has come forward on Monday after the mutated coronavirus strain was reported in a person living around Toronto. This person has never been anywhere or shares any contact with a person who has recently traveled abroad. The chief medical officer (health) in Ontario, Dr. David Williams confirms this patient was living in Peel which is outside the main city.

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While it is very common for the viruses to change and mutate, researchers are excessively concerned with mutated coronavirus strains because of the increased threat to public health. These mutated variants will reportedly spread much faster than the original strain.

One of the previously identified British mutated variants has already made it to Canada and it was also reported from Ontario, which is the most crowded and busy province of the country.

This South African variant of coronavirus was first seen back in October 2020. After this, it has reached nearly 30 other countries which now includes Canada and the US.

This news has made the Ontario government concerned about public safety. Some speculations say that the government is reconsidering its decision to re-open the schools in Toronto and surrounding areas.

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Although the vaccine against coronavirus is already here but some health experts believe they may not be as effective against mutated coronavirus strains as the original virus. However, some recent studies have estimated that they will help against mutated versions but the South African variant is still unclear and remain a mystery for health experts.

This South African coronavirus variant is named “B. 1.351” and it contains most mutations as compared to all other variants. These mutations include changes in the spikey proteins which the viral body uses to attach and invade any cell. This same protein is targeted for most coronavirus vaccines and treatment plans. That’s why changes to protein structure are linked with changed effects of vaccine too.

This discovery of the mutated South African virus caught the attention of researchers who are now studying it hoping to find all the changes which were not there in the older virus. Most of them believe that it is nearly 50% more deadly and contagious than the previous viruses and the changes in spikey proteins will help it to attach, enter and invade a cell. However, the re-emergence of coronavirus cases is not because of the mutated variants only. Health experts blame human behavior and negligence for increasing the daily cases again.

Health experts are convinced that there are more variants with similar or worse mutations inside which are all set to attack humans next. The reason why these Brazilian, UK and South African variants appeared first is because of the prompt response of governments, hoping to find the reason behind reemergence of the cases. With more testing, contact tracing and identifying structural and functional changes in new coronavirus patients, can help estimating the risk and create control strategy.

Areeba Hussain

The author is a fulltime medical and healthcare writer. She graduated in Medical Microbiology and Immunology with distinction. Her areas of prime interest are medicine, medical technology, disease awareness, and research analysis. Twitter @Areeba94789300

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