New Variant Shows 13% increase of Transmissibility

Currently, as of May 30, the world seems to be divided into two groups: one where there are increased vaccination rates with signs of normal life, and another where cases seem to spike higher than ever.

Just over a month ago, the country of India fell to one of the worst coronavirus waves, maintaining a record breaking streak for death counts and infected citizens. Due to numerous reasons, one being the lack of vaccine distribution and the other being a new variant, other countries have shown a similar rise in cases. The SARS-CoV-2 variant, also called B.1.617, was discovered in India primarily then spread to the United States, the United Kingdom, and other countries such as Singapore. Experts have researched and found three main types: B.1.617.1, B.1.617.2, and B.1.617.3. These 3 variants vary from each by small genetic differences than the original of B.1.617.

With this new discovery, scientists are urgently testing to see how the variants respond to the current vaccines, such as Pfizer, Moderna, and the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. They are also testing how these variants would later affect the pandemic itself as a whole, tracing its tracks and visualizing the trajectory of its impact on different countries.

Julian Tang, a consultant virologist at Leicester Royal Infirmary in the united Kingdom, said ““I look at individual mutations because they each have individual properties that we think might confer higher transmissibility; for example, the B.1.617.2 variant contains contagious mutations called 452R and 478K.” With its special genome marker, the B.1.617.2 variant has been easy to trace and scientists have confirmed that nearly half of the current infections were from the B.1.617.2 strain. By data, the B.1.617.2 variants seems to have a 13 percent higher infection rate than the original B.1.1.7.

With a majority of the United Kingdom’s population only having their first out of two doses, the research on the new variants are still hesitant. Even so, experts are warning that to prevent another summer wave, people should refrain from becoming lax and should keep wearing masks to avoid a direct cause to higher infections.

A street in Bolton, UK, where cases of COVID-19 caused by the B.1.617.2 variant have been identified.Credit: Hollie Adams/Bloomberg/Getty


Categories: Clinical