▲ Corona 19 virus electron microscope image
Scientists are nervous after a strain of the coronavirus that reflects dozens of mutations at once has been discovered, The Guardian reports.
The corona 19 mutant in question is called ‘B.1.1.529’ and has 32 genetic mutations in the ‘spike protein’.
Viruses use the spike protein to penetrate into the host cell, so mutations in the spike protein can alter its ability to spread.
It may also make it more difficult for the body’s immune system to attack the virus.
All of the COVID-19 vaccines given around the world work on the spike protein.
A total of 10 B.1.1.529 mutations have been identified so far.
The first discovery was in Botswana, Africa, on the 11th of last month, and two more cases have been confirmed in Botswana since then.
Since then, six have been found in South Africa and one in Hong Kong.
South Africa’s Ministry of Health has officially confirmed the outbreak and warned that it could be highly contagious.
He added that the number of confirmed cases is increasing in Northwest and Limpopo provinces, centering on Hauteng province in the metropolitan area.
The case in Hong Kong is a 36-year-old man who was confirmed in quarantine two days after returning from a 20-day visit to South Africa.
(Photo courtesy of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Yonhap News)