BREAKING! COVID-19 Latest: US Study Shows Co-Infection With Two Different Strains Of SARS-COV-2 Is More Deadly And More Such Cases Emerging Globally
: Researchers from the University of California-Berkeley say that some individuals could be infected by two strain variations of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus at once, sending the immune system into overdrive. Such cases are also emerging globally with scientist warning that co-infections with two or more different strains could even render vaccines, antibodies and current drug protocols redundant to a certain degree along with a more deadly outcome for the patient.
The research findings are published on a preprint server and are currently being peer reviewed. https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.07.13.20152959v1
According to a new research, different mutated strains of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus could be infecting individuals in some communities at once, pushing up the death toll from the disease.
The scientists from the UC Berkeley school of public health said variations of the pathogen circulating in Europe and the United States could be causing “serial infections” in some individuals, confusing the immune system and triggering an overreaction or even death.
Dr Lee Riley,a Professor and chair of the division of infectious disease and vaccinology at the University Of California-Berkeley told Thailand Medical News, “If one strain is still highly prevalent, the situation should be closely monitored, especially for severe disease occurrence, and social distancing should still be maintained to make sure the second strain doesn’t get introduced,”
Past studies found that Sars-CoV-2 coronavirus acquired an important mutation called D614G. This mutation could improve the physical stability of its spike protein and make it more infectious, according to some research.
These mutations are rare in Asia except India. In China it is also rare accounting for 2 per cent of all the samples sequenced so far, including cases linked to overseas travellers.
However by early July, more than 70 per cent of the samples in the global database had this variation.
This D614G strain has further evolved into two major subgroups, one with one extra mutation (C14408T), and the other with two mutations (C14408T, G2556T).
Significantly, the former is now the dominant strain in Western Europe, while the second is the most common in the United States.
Initially the researchers suspected these variations might pose different threats to individuals, but the theory was not supported by the data. They then looked at what happened if a region was hit at the same time by the strains dominant in Europe and the US, and found that the death rates tended to peak a few weeks after co-circulation even after adjusting for other mortality factors.
Dr Riley warned, “The study finding raises a disturbing possibility that individuals living in places with high prevalence of co-circulating strains may get serially infected with each variant.”
Germany for example had low mortality at the early stage of the pandemic but the American strain arrived in March and quickly spread, accounting for as many as half of th
e cases at one point. Three to four weeks later, the death rates in Germany peaked.
The study team found even if the second strain infected only a small proportion of the population, it could still cause a spike in deaths. In Britain, for instance, the American strain was present in only 6.4 per cent of its samples, but the actual number of people being infected serially could be high, and it helped push the British death rate to 14 per cent, one of the highest in the world.
The city of San Francisco had a low death rate of 1.6 per cent, and it has been dominated by the American strain. But Santa Clara county in the same state suffered a co-circulation with the European strain and recorded a death rate three times higher.
Such scenarios could be happening in other parts of the world, but the picture remained unclear.
Dr Riley warned, “There are not many sequences deposited from India, Africa, Pakistan, The Middle-East and South America now so it’s difficult to say what’s happening in those regions.”
A virologist from Maryland speaking on conditions of anonymity said, “The US and European experts and authorities knew about the emerging mutations and various strains but down played the situation. Many experts are looking at the mutations in the genomic sequencing the wrong way as even minor codon changes in certain so called “non-relevant” sites of the virus are creating newer strains with different properties and characteristics. The world is in a deeper trouble than we know.”
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