The United Kingdom's Newest Variant. Explained.

New Coronavirus mutations are cropping up.

February 9, 2021

Aliyeva Dilber

Writer at Motus News

Looking back at 2020 or even right now, we can clearly see the complications this pandemic has caused. Numbers of death increasing every minute, schools and country borders getting closed, not being able to see your close ones, losing your mind at home, and so much more is the result of this pandemic. We try our best to stay at home and keep the distance in order to prevent the spread; however, is this virus doing the same? Currently, coronavirus mutations possess even more danger than Covid-19 itself. Things are not as calm as you think they are.

       Covid-19 has come from a virus called SARS-CoV-2 and recently it has been mutating. The new version of coronavirus was found in the United Kingdom, and it is called B.1.1.7. Scientists found that this new version has 17 different mutations in its genes in comparison to the Covid-19. However, after taking this fact into account, how does the virus get mutated?

       When the virus spreads from one person to another, some genetic changes happen within the virus and this is called “mutation”. The virus constantly changes in the body. When it transfers to another person, one gets affected with the changed version of the virus. Luckily, the changed genes do not make the new virus different from Covid. The main difference is that the B.1.1.7 version of Covid-19 spreads much faster than everyone expected because the new version enters the cells more easily. To explain the difference in a simpler way, biochemist Jeremy Luban stated “When a person sneezes on a bus, the new variant is more likely to infect other people than the last form of the virus”(npr.org).

       Today, scientists are trying to test the vaccine on the new version to see whether it works on it or not. They are not worried about the effect of the vaccine, because it will most likely work on the new virus as well. The new version of the virus has undergone a lot of mutations by having 10 amino acid changes in its spike proteins which is the main characteristic of the virus that allows it to gain access to the host’s cells (biorxiv). When it comes to vaccines, they contain immune sera which is a serum that can produce artificial antibodies; moreover, the immune sera will neutralize the measurement of how much antibody our organism needs and the main aim of all vaccines at the moment is to provide antibodies to the cells in order to improve immune system of the people. And a strong immune system means that the body can overcome any virus. In fact, this effect of the vaccine will hardly allow the second version of the virus to escape without ending it. Nonetheless, this does not mean that all vaccines are going to give this effect. For example; the vaccines of South Africa will produce antibodies in the body, but the effect is not as strong as in some other vaccines such as Pfizer (bbc) .  

       Sadly, the B.1.1.7 version is already spreading to other countries such as Denmark, Netherlands and Australia. The spread of the new virus brings a message to our minds that there can be other mutations in the future. As long as Covid-19 spreads, scientists expect different types of mutations in the upcoming months or years (Vox.com). Nevertheless, this does not mean that the new versions of the virus can become a lot worse than Covid-19 itself. While mutating, the new versions can escape the antibodies which can reduce the efficacy of vaccines. Doctors have seen a lot of situations like this with other infectious diseases, which means they are ready and confident in their job.

       Now, the real question is ‘what can we do about the mutations of coronavirus?’ We need to stop the Covid-19 because all mutations come from the first source. What we can do is to follow the safety rules of Covid-19. Worrying about the mutations and how worse the situation will get is not going to make changes, but social distancing and wearing masks will decrease the amount of spreadings. Washing your hands frequently after contacting other people will create better hygiene which is very important. Also, while coughing or sneezing, it is crucial to maintain a distance between the person in front of you because that person’s life matters just like yours. Lastly, avoiding crowded places will make a significant change, as most of the people get infected while they are in a crowded zone full of people. (WHO advices)

        In conclusion, just because vaccines are coming out does not mean that we can finally relax. Safety rules should still remain as the biggest priority. For winning the battle with Covid-19, we need to work together as a team and think about not only ourselves, but the ones around us as well. Health always comes first, take good care of it.