BREAKING! French Health Authorities Report Emergence Of Another SARS-CoV-2 Variant-B.1.640 While The Rest Of Europe Is Experiencing A New Surge
French health authorities have reported the emergence of yet another new SARS-Cov-2 variant called B.1.640
which has a few deletions and unique mutations on its spike proteins.
Though not much data is available at the moment, the new variant is though to be more potent and cause disease severity but may not be that transmissible as compared to the Delta lineages.
The new variant has also been detected in a handful of European countries and is raising concerns among some health professionals because there are changes to the coronavirus spike protein that have never been seen before.
The WHO has been informed and the ECDC (European Centre For Disease Prevention And Control) is monitoring developments with regards to this new SARS-CoV-2 variant. https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/sites/default/files/documents/Variants-page-change-log-12-11-2021.pdf
This new variant, known either as B.1.X or B.1.640, was first reported about by the French paper Le Telegramme after it infected 24 people at a French school in the Brittany region in October.
All the infected individuals suffered disease severity and required hospitalization despite being young adults with no existing comorbidities.
It was reported that when the variant was discovered in France, the school at which the outbreak occurred was forced to close 50% of its classes, Le Telegramme reported.
Even though the situation is now under control and no cases have been found in France since October 26, the French Regional Health Agency said, the variant remains under surveillance.
A few cases were also discovered in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Scotland and Italy, although the Delta variant and its descendants continue to be the most dominant strains.
A leading virologist from Bar-Ilan University’s Professor Dr Cyrille Cohen, who is originally from France and regularly interviews and consults with French health officials, explained that the B.1.640 variant has some unprecedented mutations. A few in particular has drawn attention including a deletion on the spike protein and a mutation on the spike protein, which is what allows the virus to cling to the human cell and start the infection process.
The key question is whether these will make the virus more infectious or render it less effective.
It was reported that the B.1.640 variant is believed to have emanated from Africa, a scenario Dr Cohen said that health experts are afraid of and that highlights the need for vaccine equality.
Dr Cohen told Thailand Medical News
, “This variant exemplifies that if you leave some of the world’s population without access to vaccines, then the virus will continue to multiply and it will lead to more variants.”
Interestingly a Q4 Global Forecast report published last week by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU)
highlighted that while mostly developed countries have successfully vaccinated large swaths of their citizens, mostly developing countries have made only negligible progress.
Accordingly, the report specifically highlighted the failures of Africa’s vaccination drive, where as of late October only 6% of the population in African states is vaccinated against COVID.
The EIU report highlighted, “The cause of such low vaccination rates is well-known: despite recent improvements, global production continues to lag behind demand, with developing countries facing long delays in accessing vaccines.”
The EIU report added that the World Health Organization’s COVAX program has only managed to ship some 400 million doses globally and that donations from richer countries have been sparse.
Furthermore, even if vaccines were delivered, African countries would be challenged in rolling them out, the report said-mainly due to logistical reasons.
Dr Cohen added, “Not giving vaccines to these countries may seem OK in the short term but in the long term, we might have new variants that are problematic that developed in unvaccinated countries.”
Dr Cohen “I don’t want to frighten people. There are just a few cases of B.1.640 now and it could very well be that in a month we could all forget about this variant. But it is an example of what could happen if there is no access to vaccines for everyone.”
There are however many other medical experts who disagree with Dr Cohens comments saying that it is the vaccines that is driving mutations and the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variants and sub-variants. Furthermore some experts are further anticipating that the two new drugs that will soon enter the market ie the two oral antiviral pills- will likely create even more drug resistant and also potent mutations and variants especially the new drug by Merck which is extremelymutagenic. https://www.forbes.com/sites/williamhaseltine/2021/11/01/supercharging-new-viral-variants-the-dangers-of-molnupiravir-part-1/?sh=65cf23156b15
Thailand Medical News will provide more updates about the B.1.640 variant in the next few days.
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