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Healthcare

A New Variant of Coronavirus is Here and Spreading Fast

A new coronavirus variant named B1525 has been confirmed by Public Health England and added to the list of all variants list recently. In addition to existing variants, this new variant has not one or two but multiple mutations, which make it easy to contact and enter into human cells.

Some of the changes in this new coronavirus variant include a mutation E484K, which makes it easy entry to the body and overcomes the immune system. This mutation was also seen in the previous two strains the South Africa variant (named B1351) and the Brazillian variant (named P1).

As of now, there is not much available on how E484K mutation will affect the vaccines against this new coronavirus variant (B1525). But most scientists believe that B1525 is highly transmissible than other variants which increases the risks for it to cause complications.

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Another mutation inside this new coronavirus variant is Q677H which has been identified in six different lineages within the US territory. According to the researchers, it appears that it adds up to the virulence but its effect is not determined yet.

Interestingly, the new B1525 variant has a number of ‘deletions’ too. It means this variant has some sections missing in its genome, which may change its nature. The UK variant that was discovered in England was also reportedly found with some deletions which were linked with increased pathogenicity of the virus as proven in lab settings.

Among all coronavirus variants, this new variant, B1525 is the latest addition. The earliest cases of the presence of the B1525 genome in a person report back to mid-December 2020 when it was found in one person residing in the UK. But like most other variants, B1525 has also been to various international locations before it was identified as a new coronavirus variant. Nearly 208 genome sequences of this new variant are traced back to 18 different countries by Feb 2021. Most of the cases were reported from Uk as well as Denmark but these countries are working to sequence as many coronavirus genomes as possible.

B1525 variant has also made to many other countries such as France, Australia, the US, Nigeria, Finland, Belgium, Singapore, Italy, Spain, Japan, Switzerland, and Jordan. The latest to this list is Ireland which confirmed the presence of this variant on Feb 25th.

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The Centre for Disease Control (Nigeria) released a statement in February, regarding different coronavirus variants present in Nigeria. It also included the B1525 genome which was present in an old sample collected on 23rd November in 2020. However, this sample didn’t make it to the national database so the UK-based case is considered as the first one with B1525 mutation.

Based on the official data, it appears that the virus is a lot more common in Nigeria than it is in UK and Denmark. Other countries have probably not worked on sequencing and identifying it, which explains its low occurrence. However, one thing is clear that B1525 exists and it is less frequent than other strains. It is a new addition to the list of all coronavirus variants which require a detailed investigation in the laboratory estimating how it may affect a patient.

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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