UK Scientists Investigate Spike Protein Mutation

Could a novel strain of SARS-CoV-2 identified this month be linked to an accelerating spread in the country’s southeast? Public Health England is investigating.

British scientists emphasized there is currently no evidence the new strain causes more severe illness or has any impact on antibody response or vaccine efficacy.

It would be “pretty surprising” if the virus would have already evolved to evade such a new vaccine, chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said in a press conference, BBC Science Focus reports.

The new strain includes a mutation in the spike protein, which in theory could help the virus become more infectious and spread more easily.

Some Perspective: SARS-CoV-2 has already mutated many times—including around 4,000 mutations in the spike protein gene alone.

The WHO is aware of the new variant, emergencies chief Mike Ryan said, stressing that there is no evidence the strain behaves differently, Reuters reports.

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