As you know I did a post about why the the COVID-19 is a good example of natural selection as suggested by Charles Darwin. You should have heard about the UK variant, the Brazilian variant, you could also get a Hollywood variant, but you are unlikely to get a French variant.
No, not because of waxing techniques as there is a French variant there:-). It is not about “Gods will” either but because the French are not testing for variants. If you dont look, you won’t find. I believe the UK sequences over 10% of the COVID tests it does, which is going to be millions each month and the UK has done about half of the World’s SARS-CoV-2 sequences. These are deposited in a public database
You may have heard of the UK variant (B.1.1.7). This variant was first detected in the United Kingdom in Kent (home of the Channel tunnel) towards the end of 2020. It is referred to by some as the “Kent variant”. It has a large number of mutations, many of which involve the virus’ Spike protein, which helps the virus invade human cells. This is used for vaccination. In the Oxford version the spike looks like the Chinese virus Spike and the Moderna/Pfizer versions have two prolines (amino acids) changes that stabilises the structure.
The Kent (UK) variant has spread rapidly throughout the UK (about 80% of tests in January were against this variant), since it emerged, and to at least 70 other countries, including Australia.
The fact it has spread so rapidly, and quickly replaced other circulating variants, suggests it has some sort of selective advantage over other variants (Natural selection). The science Boffs have found that this variant has lots of mutations from the original “Chinese” Variant and one mutation is the E501Y change (Aspartic acid to tyrosine amino acid at position 501 of the spike protein). This mutation has appeared elsewhere and occurs in the South African (B.1.351) variant found in Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa, in October 2020. (My sources rule out ProfG popping home for a summer holiday as the cause) and now accounts for more than 90% of SARS-CoV-2 samples in South Africa that undergo genetic sequencing. It is also found in the Brazilian variant (B.1.1.28. P.1). This was first picked up in Japan in some Brazilian travellers. Perhaps it should have been the Japanese variant:-). The 501Y variant binds to the target ACE2 more effectively.
The South African variant also has other concerning mutations. Two of these, called “E484K” (A glutamic acid to lysine change at position 484 of Spike) and “K417N” (A Lysine to asparagine), are bad news for our immune system as it can help to allow evasion from the immune system. Like the South African variant, the Brazilian variant has the spike, N501Y and E484K and and variants at position 417 (as well as numerous other mutations). Now that the Kent variant is the base on which the virus will continue to mutate and apparently UK variants with the E484K variant have been found. Others including F490S (Phenylanaline to serine amino acid change) and S494P (Serine to proline) have been found, which may help escape the vaccines. However, remember the vaccines also make a T cell response and whilst the variants above may influence antibody binding it is likely that T cells react to a different bit and will eventually kill the virus, it may be just abit slower so you get a sniffle and a snuffle before that happens.
Another mutation in the Kent variant is L18F (Leucine to phenylanaline) substitution in spike initiated a substrain characterized by replicative advantage of 1.70 [95% CI: 1.56-1.96] in relation to the remaining Kent substrains. Can we call this the “Polish variant” because it was reported by some Polish researchers?
Now if these virus are not transmitted then it not a problem but if it does then new variants can occur and eventually the virus may develop mutations such that it may avoid the vaccination response. This is a concern for people that do not get adequate vaccination cover so that the virus is not eliminated. If it is not eliminated then the virus can be passed on. If it has an advantage it will take over. When you get vaccinated the immune response will pick off the virus that they have been generated to get rid off. If there is mutated virus that avoids some of the immune response the question is can it infect someone, before it is got rid of?
The virus has programmes that limit the number of mutations that occur in the virus as it replicates, which is good news. This means that this occurs slowly. Now the weird thing was the Kent variant had nearly twenty mutations. Why so many? One thought is that the ancestor of the Kent virus infected the individual and was not immediately destroyed, because the individual may have been immunosuppressed. The virus survived and it mutated, but the virus was not removed and it mutated again and again. Virus can be detected in some individuals for many weeks after symptom onset and there are cases of coronavirus infection being detected over a hundred days. If that person is not aware that they are “virus -central” they may infect others.
If you are immunosuppressed due to your MS treatment and the virus is not removed, it may mutate and you don’t want to be the source of the “Whitechapel Variant” or will it be called the “Cockney”. Now I don’t tell you this to scare you as I am sure that eventually the immune system wins and if you get the vaccine at 12 weeks it is better than none, and for some vaccines may give you a bigger protective response than at 4 weeks. Howver, this, is one good reason why it is valuable to get effective protection, which can be achieved via vaccination, as intended by the manufacturers and to ensure that you socially distance from people, whilst that protection is being formed.
However, bear with us and hopefully the “final”…”final”….”final” advice is the last one….until it changes again:-(.
P.S. ProfB went under cover at UK Joint Committee Vaccine and Immunization (JCVI) meeting, he shaved his head, got some lipo suction, got some trendy square glassess from his grandad and a fake 70s Porn star Tash to scanning peoples thoughts about their vaccination advice strategy….Guess what happened.
P.S. Don’t watch this. If you can’t stand a bit of Gore.
And to finish on a happy note