What Are New Coronavirus Variants?

Viruses are not constant and they change over time through mutation. Sometimes these new variants appear in our body and disappear after a while but there are some variants that might stay a long time. When you take Coronavirus, there are multiple variants that cause Coronavirus. 

Since the Coronavirus pandemic started the scientists started discovering whether the virus SARS-CoV-2, developed any mutation among them as they started to spread. In December 2020, the United Kingdom officially declared that its scientists have discovered a new contagious variant in the Coronavirus and they labeled it as B 1.1.7.

This new variant B 1.1.7 is more transmissible than the previous viruses and can cause more death when compared to the other variant viruses. This new variant spreads faster than the previous variant which may lead to more COVID-19 cases and an increase in the number of cases will lead to more strain on human resources.  

So the researchers are now focusing on this new threat which could do an end-run around the immune response of humans. And the studies show that the antibodies generated through vaccination of the currently authorized vaccines can recognize these variants. 

This B 1.1.7 variant has 23 mutations among them six cause no changes in the sequence of the virus and in the remaining seventeen mutations, eight of them affect the spike protein. This change is known as N501Y which involves switching of asparagine to tyrosine at position 501 which is located in the receptor-binding domain of the spike protein. 

Another mutation in the RNA encodes spike protein. This enables the researchers to detect this variant in PCR(Polymerase Chain Reaction). Scientists were looking for PCR tests that are negative for spike sequences and positive for other targets. This shows that the person has a B 1.1.7 variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. 

And so far these viruses do not seem to become resistant to vaccines and if the vaccine-resistant SARS-CoV-2 virus strains emerge then the vaccines might need to be updated. Scientists say that several vaccines can be easily changed to reflect the latest changes but the new variants might circulate along the older strains.