Scientists in Oregon have seen a homegrown version of a fast-spreading version of the coronavirus that first appeared in Britain – but now combined with a mutation that may make the variant less susceptible to the vaccine.
Researchers have so far found only one case of this formidable combination, but genetic analysis suggested that the variant was obtained in the community and not generated in the patient.
“We didn’t import it from anywhere else in the world – it happened spontaneously,” said Brian O’Rock, a geneticist at Oregon Health and Science University who led the work. He and his colleagues participate in an effort to track variance in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and they have accumulated Their results In a database shared by scientists.
The variants originally identified in Britain are called B.1.1.7 Is spreading rapidly Across the United States, and accounted for at least 2,500 cases in 46 states. This form of virus is both More contagious, And More deadlyCompared to the original version, and in a few weeks accounted for most of the infections in the US.
The new variant that appeared in Portland has the same spine, but also a mutation – E484K, or “Eq” – seen in variants of the virus circulating in South Africa, Brazil, and New York City.
Lab studies And clinical trials in South Africa It is indicated that eq mutation makes existing vaccines less effective by blunting the body’s immune response. (Vaccines still work, but findings are worrying enough that Pfizer-BioNotech and Modern is Started Testing newer version His vaccines designed to defeat variants found in South Africa.)
A version B.1.1.7 with Eek has also emerged in Britain, designated by scientists as “a type of concern”. But the virus identified in Oregon has evolved independently, Drs. O’Ok said.
Dr. O’Rocke and his colleagues found the variant among coronovirus samples collected by the Oregon State Public Health Lab from an outbreak in a health care setting. Of the 13 test results he analyzed, 10 turned out to be B.1.1.7 alone and a combination.
Other experts said the discovery was not surprising, as ech mutations have originated as viruses around the world. But the occurrence of mutations is worth observing in B.1.1.7, he said.
In the UK, there is a version of this version Small number of cases. But by the time the combination developed, B.1.1.7 had spread to the country.
“We’re at the point where B.1.1.7 is being introduced in the United States”, said Stasia Wiman, an expert in computational genomics at the University of California, Berkeley. “As it develops, and as it gradually becomes the dominant thing, it can accumulate more mutations.”
Viral mutations can increase or weaken each other. For example, variants identified in South Africa and Brazil have multiple mutations alike, including Eq. But the Brazilian version has a mutation, K417N, which is not present in the version from South Africa.
In a study published Thursday in Nature, researchers Compared to antibody reactions Identified in all three forms of concern – Britain, South Africa and Brazil. In line with other studies, they found that the type of pummeled in South Africa is the most resistant to antibodies produced by the immune system.
But the rotating variant in Brazil was not as resistant, even though it did eq mutations. “If you have a second mutation, you don’t see that as a bad effect,” said Michael Diamond, a viral immunologist at Washington University in St. Louis, who led the study.
It is too early to say whether the variant in Oregon will behave like the people of South Africa or Brazil. But the idea that other mutations may weaken the effect of Eq is “excellent news,” Drs. Wyman said.
Over all, she said, people searching for Oregon reinforce the need for people to take precautions, such as wearing a mask, until a large proportion of the population is immunized.
“People need to be cautious, not outside,” she said. “We can’t let our guard down yet while these more variable variants are still underway.”