The ongoing war against the COVID pandemic is about to end soon. Across the world, several vaccines have been invented that have proved to be effective against the COVID. In India, 2 vaccines have been given emergency approval and vaccination has already rolled out. Soon enough we will all be receiving the COVID vaccine. This brings with it the hope that there will be no more COVID casualties and we will be able to rebuild our economies.
In the midst of all this, another bit of news has been making the rounds which might dampen your happy spirits. The emergence of a new coronavirus mutation in the B117 strain is triggering significant anxiety in the scientific community.
What are scientists worried about? Read on to find out.
What do we know about the B117 strain?
Towards the end of 2020, we came to know about a new strain of coronavirus called the UK virus of B117. It made headlines across the world and forced a fresh round of restrictions and lockdown in Britain. Flights to the UK were temporarily suspended, all because the B117 strain is extremely contagious.
Several other strains were found in South Africa, Brazil, the USA, and Japan that were believed to have originated from B117.
But scientists soon discovered that though the B117 strain is more contagious, that does not mean that it is more dangerous than the other strains of COVID. The COVID vaccines were expected to be effective against the B117.
But recently, new studies have found something alarming, something that is making scientists lose sleep.
The odd new coronavirus mutation and why it’s worrying scientists –
For many months now scientists have been studying all mutations that the coronavirus undergoes. It is the nature of any virus to evolve.
The focus of the research has been directed primarily to understanding coronavirus mutation of the spike protein. These spikes are used but the virus to attach itself to the healthy host cell.
Any coronavirus mutation of the spike will let it stick on more securely to the host cell. When our bodies develop immunity through either infection or vaccination, the antibodies dislodge the viruses from our host cells. But the coronavirus mutation of the spike region will help the virus evade the antibodies.
What that means is our antibodies will no longer have any effect on coronavirus.
And this is exactly the kind of coronavirus mutation that scientists have observed in samples of B117. They are calling this new mutation the ‘escape mutation’
Are vaccines less effective against this mutation?
The first thing that will come to your mind after learning about the new coronavirus mutation is will the vaccines work? And people who have already overcome the COVID infection might also be wondering if the antibodies they produced in response to the virus will prevent another infection.
Scientists don’t have clear answers to these questions. Immunity is a complex system. There are several different kinds of antibodies that our body produces and different antibodies attack different parts of the virus. So the effectiveness of the COVID vaccine will depend on how much our body depends on those antibodies that attack the spike protein region of the coronavirus.
Researchers will need to study the coronavirus mutation in greater detail before they can come up with an answer.
What should you do?
Continue maintaining social distancing, and regular sanitization. Wear your mask at all times when you are outside your home. Once your turn comes, get vaccinated. Even post-vaccination you must follow the COVID protocol. This is the best you can do at this moment.
Updates regarding coronavirus will keep coming. This is a virus which is difficult to understand. Even though the COVID vaccine is your best shot at a normal life, our safety lies in being responsible and doing the right thing at the right time.
Disclaimer: The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.