Coronavirus News: New Variants Detected-Europe B.1.214.2, Israeli P681H Variant, Qatar N Gene Mutation C29200A That Can Evade PCR Tests!
Europe’s New B.1.214.2 Variant
Researchers from University of Liege in Belgium have identified another new worrying variant that is also fast spreading around Europe.
The new variant is reported to have a variety of key spike mutations and a 9bp spike insertion on it.
The new variant, B.1.214.2, has been sequenced 332 times and was first identified in Switzerland, although over half of all the sequences are from Belgium, according to PANGO Lineages (Phylogenetic Assignment of Named Global Outbreak). https://cov-lineages.org/lineages/lineage_B.1.214.2.html
The B.1.214.2 variant has also been identified in France, Britain, Ireland, Germany, Portugal, the US, Senegal, the Netherlands and Bulgaria.
Accordingly the origin of the variant is still unknown, but it is descended from another one first identified in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in April of last year.
European and Belgium authorities are refusing to divulge details of the mutations found on the new variant based on apparent directives from WHO and the U.S. CDC but sources that the variants contains a number of known antibody evading mutations on them that were already found on various Variants of Concern
Alarmingly the variant joins a series of SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus variants detected around the world, including the South African variant, the UK variant, the Brazilian variants, the New York variant, the California variant, the New York variant, the Tanzanian Variant, the German variant, the Double Mutation Indian recombined variant among others.
It has already been accepted that these emerging variants are going to change the course of the COVID-19 pandemic and that most of the currentt COVID-19 vaccines would be absolute before the end of the year.
Israel Despite Claiming To Have Had A Successful COVID-19 Vaccination Programme Has A New Variant Called The P681H Variant Fast Spreading
According to Israel's health Ministry, a new coronavirus mutation has been discovered in the country and is fast becoming dominant.
Scientists from Israel’s Central Virology Laboratory posted a research paper about the mutation on a preprint server that has yet to be peer reviewed. https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.03.25.21253908v1.full.pdf
A spokesman from the Health Ministry told Thailand Medical News, “The Israeli variant appeared in samples from July but it was only officially recognized was in wastewater sequencing in October 2020 and then in clinical samples for the first time in November 2020.
However in October 2020, it was found at a 5% frequency in wastewater samples from the southern Israeli city of Rahat. In November, the strain was discovered at a frequency of 98% in Netanya and Haifa.
To date some 181 individuals are known to have been infected with the mutation, according to the res
earch paper, but health officials believe there could be hundreds more who were infected with the virus.
The UK variant B.1.1.7 variant remains the dominant strain in Israel, still constituting at least 90% of all cases.
The news P681H strain has not been associated with higher infection rates nor does it appear to cause more serious illness. Furthermore, the Pfizer vaccine appears effective against it.
The P681H variant was discovered by the Central Virology Laboratory at Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, during routine genetic sequencing. The ministry claims it is not known yet if the new variant has “any clinical or epidemiological significance.”
Israeli health experts said that the less transmission there is in Israel and the higher the immunization rate, the less concerned the country needs to be about new local variants. However, Israel must continue to be cautious about variants coming into the country from abroad.
A detailed report released Tuesday by the Coronavirus Knowledge and Information Center once again warned of the harm that these potential variants could cause.
The report said, “A major issue these days is risk management in Israel with regards to the arrival of problematic variants of the coronavirus from abroad.”
The report highlighted the South African, Brazilian and New York variants, which have shown to be more infectious in people who have recovered from coronavirus and recommended that those who had recovered get the jab as soon as possible.
The report also cautioned against allowing easy entry into Israel from Central and South America, the United States and Europe, adding that Israel should likewise test and isolate those entering the country as needed.
The report stressed that all people, including those who are vaccinated, should be tested on entry to Israel. He said unvaccinated people need to be tested before travel and on arrival and they should be quarantined.
The report said, “The same way you prevent people from getting on an airplane with a handgun, you can stop people from falsifying lab results or traveling unprotected.”
Qatar Researchers Discover Alarming New N Gene Mutation C29200A That Evades Current PCR Tests!
A new study by the Pathology and the Genomics Core at Sidra Medicine-Qatar have found a new N gene mutation called C29200A that can evade current PCR tests. The study published in the peer reviewed Journal of Clinical Microbiology also highlights Qatar’s Sidra Medicine’s continuing role in supporting global efforts to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. https://jcm.asm.org/content/59/4/e03278-20
The research findings calls to action for testing centres worldwide to monitor mutations in the virus and ensure that testing methods are up to date, and based on multiple gene targets to avoid possible false-negative results.
Leading author Dr Mohamed Rubayet Hasan, a clinical molecular microbiologist from the Pathology Department at Sidra Medicine said, “Since the beginning of the pandemic, worldwide laboratory testing to detect Covid-19 by real-time reverse transcription PCR (RT-qPCR) has played a central role in mitigating the spread of the virus. Soon after the viral genome sequences were available, several RT-qPCR assays were developed and made available by the World Health Organisation for public use. However, the large-scale sustained person-to-person transmission of Covid-19 has led to many mutational events, some of which may affect the sensitivity and specificity of available PCR assays or tests.”
The study team noticed samples from several unrelated patients were positive for only one viral gene target, which led them to suspect that some of the viruses circulating in Qatar may have this common mutation.
By detailed analysis of the genetic sequence of these viruses, the study team identified a new mutation in a commonly used gene target for Covid-19 detection and found that the same mutation was present in viruses recovered from epidemiologically unrelated individuals.
The study team also noted that this particular mutation had not been reported by any other country.
Dr Hasan told Thailand Medical News, “Current testing methods have played a central role in mitigating the virus' spread through early detection, tracing suspected cases, and screening at-risk populations. Therefore the implications of inaccurate test results could cause health authorities to lose track of Covid-19 positive individuals. Infected patients may unknowingly spread the virus, and the erroneous test results could affect infected individuals' medical care. Our study concludes that it is essential to ensure RT-qPCR methods used for Covid-19 testing are up to date and inclusive of such variants in case further mutations make the virus undetectable by existing molecular tests.”
Division chief of microbiology at Sidra Medicine Dr Patrick Tang added, “Our study findings also highlighted the importance of testing for multiple Sars-CoV-2 gene targets and quickly investigating any unusual results with genetic sequencing. This is particularly in other countries where there is rampant spread of Covid-19. The prevalence of this novel Sars-CoV-2 mutation in Qatar is low, and it is unlikely that such viruses will escape detection locally because Covid-19 testing in Qatar is almost all based on detecting multiple viral targets.”
The study team at Qatar comprised Dr Mohamed Rubayet Hasan, Dr Sathyavathi Sundararaju, research specialist; Dr Chidambaram Manickam, staff scientist associate; Faheem Mirza, senior technologist; Hamad al-Hail, technologist; Dr Stephan Lorenz, director, Genomics Core; and Dr Patrick Tang.
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