The B.1.1.529 variant has 50 mutations including over 30 on the spike protein alone. The target of COVID-19 vaccines is the spike protein through which virus gains access to our body’s cells. Scientists are conducting researches to know whether this makes it more transmissible or lethal than earlier variants. According to the reports, this new variant was first found in South Africa and has spread to other countries including Botswana, where completely vaccinated people have been infected.
There are also 10 mutations on the receptor binding domain part of the variant, compared to two for the Delta variant. The Delta Plus that mutated from the latter was characterized by the K417N mutation on the spike protein.
Francois Balloux, the Director of the London-based UCL Genetics Institute said that, “This new variant likely evolved during a chronic infection of an immuno-compromised person, possibly in an untreated HIV/AIDS patient.”
Israel said that a new case of a COVID-19 variant was identified with a large number of mutations in a person who returned from Malawi.
Indian government said that, “This variant has serious public health implications in view of recently relaxed visa restrictions and opening of international travel.”
The World Health Organization said that people need to be very careful in dealing with the variant. It further stated that, “More research needs to be conducted to understand how B.1.1.529 behaves, the global health body said. Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s COVID-19 Technical Lead, underlined the importance of ensuring complete vaccination.”