Scientists Are Concerned Over The Four New Coronavirus Variants


Jacob Nguyen

Recently, four new Coronavirus strains were spotted by scientists in various different countries. One was first identified in southeast England and has appeared in 50 different countries. Other variants were discovered in Brazil and South Africa that showed an array of mutations. Then another new variant has shown up in California, although little information is known on whether it is more infectious.

For researchers, the coronavirus variant that tops the list is the B.1.1.7 variant that was first identified in Britain. But so far, scientists are reassured that it is not more or less severe than the Coronavirus. This means that the rates of mortality and hospitalization are the same. Researchers have also found that precautions used against the Coronavirus would work in stopping the variant. However, the mutations in the variant are more infective as the virus is more likely to be transmitted when breathed in. On average, 11 out of 100 people exposed to someone with the Coronavirus would be infected. On the other hand, 16 out of 100 people exposed to B.1.1.7 would get infected. 

B.1.351, a variant first seen in Africa, has several different mutations in its structure compared to B.1.1.7. Researchers believe that the vaccine may not be as effective against this variant. Although some mutations in the variant virus can make it more resistant to the vaccine, the human immune system can adapt very well to viral mutations. So far, the variant virus has not been detected in the U.S. 

P.1 has also been showing signs of concern after originating in Brazil. This variant is believed to increase the transmissibility for people that have been previously infected with SARS. It also has the same mutation in B.1.351 that makes it more resilient to the vaccine.

Finally, another variant, L452R, was discovered in California that also has the same mutation as P.1 and B.1.351. A study done in Los Angeles said that they found this variant in 36 percent of samples from 192 people, and in 24 percent from samples of people in Southern California. While the variant is becoming more common in California, it is not known whether it is more infectious. 

With these new Coronavirus strains identified, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is trying to step up their efforts with funding health departments and testing labs. The United States currently has more than 24 million cases and over 400,000 deaths.