A mutation in the mutant? The English variant now has a new, more worrying mutation, according to a report from the British health agency Public Health England published February 1. This document indicates that the E484K mutation was detected in the RNA of the virus taken from 11 people infected in the south west of England and Wales.
A mutation already known
What does that mean ? Until now, the British variant had one main mutation: the N501Y mutation, which acts on the surface protein Spike (or protein S) and which makes the variant more contagious.
But the 11 viruses identified by the British agency have, in addition to this mutation, the E484K mutation. A variation already known since it is present in the South African and Brazilian variants.
Also read: English, South African, Brazilian… what do we know about new covid variants?
Reinfection and vaccine ineffectiveness
Problem, this mutation could decrease the recognition of the virus by the antibodies and give it immune protection, which would have two worrying consequences.
The first is an increased risk of reinfection. People already infected with an old variant of the coronavirus would therefore not be immune to this new version of the virus.
The second is an ineffectiveness of the vaccines developed against the old variant, since the functioning of the vaccines is based on an immune response.
Prepare for new changes
For now, this new mutation has only been identified in the United Kingdom. But according to “preliminary information“, this mutation would have appeared in parallel in two different places, reveals the report of Public Health England. It is therefore not impossible that it occurs again independently in other places such as in the 70 countries where the variant British has already been identified.
And whether it’s this mutation or another, it’s a possibility to be prepared for, according to the WHO. Because “the more covid-19 spreads, the more likely it is to evolve“.