Highlights

The Republic of India and several other countries in the world have suspended their flights from UK due to the concerns about the new variant of COVID 19 that is spreading rapidly in the country.

Concerns

A mutant of COVID 19 has been the reason of rapid increase in coronavirus cases in East and South England. The new variety is being referred to as Variant Under Investigation.

Variant

The variant was identified by COVID-19 Genomics United Kingdom. The COG-United Kingdom is a consortium that analyses genome sequencing data. It is the largest contributor to COVID-19 database GISAID (global science initiativ).

The new variant of COVID-19 is the result of multiple mutations in the spike protein of COVID 19. According to the preliminary analysis, the mutant is more transmissible than the previously circulating variant. The COVID-19 Genomics United Kingdom had identified these mutations as “N501Y”. It is an areas of spike protein where the virus binds to the human cell.

About Transmissibility and Severity

The new variant of COVID-19 transmits more easily than the other strains. Also, it was emphasised in the United Kingdom that there is no evidence that the variant is more likely to cause mortality. The mutation in the spike protein might change how the virus interacts with the human cells. This is because, the COVID 19 enters the human body through these spike proteins.

The new variant of COVID-19 can potentially ramp up the reproduction number of the virus by 0.93. However, scientists are still unable to come to a conclusion on the mechanism of the transmissibility of the virus. So far, four people have died out of thousand infected by the new variant.

About the other Mutations

There are currently 4000 mutations in the spike protein of COVID 19. The D614G was earlier the dominant strain of COVID 19 as it spread very easily as compared to the other strains. Another popular strain originated among Spanish farmworkers called the 20A. The EU1 strain spread rapidly across Europe in summer.

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