NIH confirms new COVID-19 variant in two Pakistanis

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ISLAMABAD ( News10) – National Institute of Health (NIH) has confirmed new variant of COVID-19 in two Pakistanis who recently travelled to United Kingdom (UK).

New coronavirus variant, which is 70 percent more transmissible , has reached 31 countries. The new SARS-CoV-2 variant was first discovered in the United Kingdom.

The World Health Organisation tweeted in December that it was “in close contact with UK officials on the new #COVID19 virus variant” and promised to update governments and the public as more is learned.

The new strain was identified in southeastern England in September and has been spreading in the area ever since, a WHO official told.


What do we know about the new mutations?


An initial analysis of the new variant has been published and identifies 17 potentially important alterations.

There have been changes to the spike protein – this is the key the virus uses to unlock the doorway to our body’s cells.

One mutation alters the most important part of the spike, known as the “receptor-binding domain”.

This is where the spike makes first contact with the surface of our body’s cells. Any changes that make it easier for the virus to get inside are likely to give it an edge.

The other mutation in which a small part of the spike is removed – has emerged several times before, including famously in infected mink.


Does it make the infection more deadly?


There is no evidence to suggest that it does, although this will need to be monitored.

However, just increasing transmission would be enough to cause problems for hospitals.

If the new variant means more people are infected more quickly, that would in turn lead to more people needing hospital treatment. 

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