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How the new coronavirus variant quickly accumulated 102 mutations in India


New Delhi, Jan 13: The total number of persons found to be positive with the new UK variant genome stands at 102, according to the Health Ministry.

The new SARS-CoV-2 variant, B.1.1.7, was first seen in Greater London in the third week of September and has since spread to other countries as well.

How the new coronavirus variant quickly accumulated 102 mutations in India

Air line services to and from UK have to shut down for weeks by several countries and resumed later.

How the new variant quickly accumulated in India

The new variant has been spreading 'rapidly' over the last four weeks indicating further spread of the variant in the country.

The report says that mutations in the SARS-CoV-2 virus accumulate at a "relatively consistent rate over time".

According to current estimates, the circulating SARS-CoV-2 lineages accumulate mutations at a rate of about just one-two mutations per month despite it being an RNA virus. The mutation rate of novel coronavirus is much less than the seasonal flu virus. The new variant has 17 mutations in all, which is unusually huge.

Since the normal rate of accumulation of mutations in coronavirus is only one-two per month, the emergence of a large number of mutations in the variant could possibly have taken place in an immunodeficient or immunosuppressed patient who has had a prolonged infection.

High rates of mutations accumulating in a short time have been reported previously in such people as the infection persists for two-four months or even longer.

Although scientists speculate here that chronic infection played a role in the origins of the B.1.1.7 variant, this remains a hypothesis and they said they cannot yet infer the precise nature of this event.

Will COVID-19 vaccines work on the new coronavirus mutation?

Experts say the COVID-19 vaccines being rolled out will likely still work on the variant.

The top U.S. infectious disease expert, said data coming from Britain indicates the vaccines still will block the virus.

But if a virus mutates significantly enough, one worry is that current vaccines might no longer offer as much protection. And although that's a possibility to watch for over time with the coronavirus, experts say they do not believe it will be the case with the variant in the UK.

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