Researchers identify five new cases of the ‘double mutant’ variant

Researchers identify five new cases of the 'double mutant' variant

April 9, 2021:-Stanford University researchers have identified five new cases of a “double mutant” Covid-19 strain discovered in the San Francisco Bay Area. Doctors are suspecting that it could be contagious and may be resistant to the current vaccines.

The new mutant initially started in India, where it’s credited with a recent 55% surge in the Maharashtra state cases after months of declining issues.

According to Dr. Benjamin Pinsky, medical director of Stanford, it contains two key mutations, which scientists call E484Q and L452R, found in other variants separately but not together in a single strain’s clinical virology laboratory which discovered the new variant in the U.S.

“There’s a decent amount of information of how these mutations behave in viruses on their own, but not in combination,” Pinsky said.

According to Pinsky, if the mutation makes the virus more resistant to antibodies, it might reduce the effectiveness of both vaccines and antibody treatments that have become a critical tool for doctors in fighting Covid-19.

“I suspect that the current vaccines will be less effective in preventing the virus by this new variant,” he said, “but all of the vaccines are extremely effective in preventing hospitalizations and deaths.”

Tom Kenyon, Chief Health Officer at Project HOPE and the Former Director of Global Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said scientists are searching for more mutations because the new CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky directed the agency to raise surveillance. “So, the more that we look for these, the more we’re going to find them,” he says.

Their new variant might stay in the Bay Area, unlike the B.1.1.7 variant from the U.K that has become the predominant strain just about anywhere it goes, Chin-Hong said.

“If the U.K. variant went into a boxing ring with the Indian variant, the U.K. variant will probably emerge victoriously. But only time will tell,” Chin-Hong said. According to scientists, the longer it takes to vaccinate the world, the more opportunities the virus has to mutate into even worse strains.

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