GENEVA: According to the World Health Organization, the coronavirus mutation first detected in Britain has now spread to 50 nations, although a related South African-identified strain has now been discovered in 20.
The UN body also indicated that the third recent “variant of concern” coronavirus identified in Japan could have an effect on immune response and needs further study.
The more transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the more chances it has to adjust. High transmission speeds mean that we can foresee the appearance of more models,’ said the WHO. The virus that causes the Covid-19 disease is SARS-CoV-2.
The British-identified version VOC 202012/01 has been detected in 50 nations, territories and areas since it was first reported to the WHO on December 14, the agency said.
Test findings found that the distribution of age and sex was comparable to that of other circulating strains, whereas touch tracing evidence indicated ‘higher transmissibility (secondary attack rates) where the variant strain is present in the index scenario.’
In 20 countries, territories and regions, the South African-identified variant 501Y.V2, first recorded on December 18, has now been observed.
It is likely that the 501Y.V2 version is more transmissible from provisional and current investigations in South Africa than variants historically circulated in South Africa, the WHO weekly study said.
“In addition, while this new variant does not appear to cause more severe illness, the rapid increase in case numbers observed has put pressure on health systems.” Given a tendency against identification in countries with virus sequencing capability, the geographical distribution of both variants is likely to be underestimated, said the WHO.
Meanwhile, the agency reported that a new form found in four travellers arriving from Brazil had been alerted by Japan on January 9. In two adults and two infants, the variant was observed.
“This variant has 12 spike protein mutations, including three mutations of concern common to VOC 202012/01 and 501Y.V2” it said, “which may affect transmissibility and immune response to the host.”
In addition, the WHO said researchers in Brazil had documented the appearance of a related variant, which was likely to have evolved regardless of the variant found in Japan.
Further analysis is needed of the degree and public health importance of these latest versions, said the paper.
To address crucial knowledge gaps and research goals for new variants, the WHO held a conference of 1,750 foreign scientists on Tuesday.
Our joint aim is to get ahead of the game to provide a global framework to recognise and analyse variants of concern quickly and appreciate their consequences for attempts to contain disease,” said Ana Maria Henao Restrepo, head of research and development at the WHO.”
The WHO reported that the new variants demonstrated the importance of increasing the virus’ diagnostic capability and systematic sequencing.