COVID-19 variant from South Africa declared the most ‘mutated’ virus, raising serious concerns
By Jenny Goldsberry
South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases found that the new COVID variant C.1.2 has “mutated substantially.” KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform also assisted in the research, according to the report.
Scientists write this variant appears to be more dangerous than previous variants, as stated in the report.
While 85% of cases came from South Africa, 5% were from the United Kingdom, 2% from New Zealand, 2% Switzerland and 2% from China. Small percentages also came out of Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mauritius and Portugal.
It is not the newest variant, but it was first discovered in May of this year. Since then, it’s been found to mutate 41.8 per year at nearly twice as fast as the current global mutation rate of the other variants.
“While these mutations are not characteristic of current VOCs/VOIs, they have been associated with escape from certain class 3 neutralising antibodies,” stated the authors of the study.
Its mutations “have been associated with escape from certain class 3 neutralizing antibodies,” the report reads. This included antibodies found in those that contracted the Alpha and Beta variants. Yet, they are still assessing if this variant can similarly neutralize the vaccine.
We have identified a new SARS-CoV-2 variant assigned to the PANGO lineage C.1.2. This variant has been detected throughout the third wave of infections in South Africa from May 2021 onwards and has been detected in seven other countries within Europe, Asia, Africa and Oceania. The identification of novel SARS-CoV-2 variants is commonly associated with new waves of infection. Like several other VOCs, C.1.2 has accumulated a number of substitutions beyond what would be expected from the background SARS-CoV-2 evolutionary rate. This suggests the likelihood that these mutations arose during a period of accelerated evolution in a single individual with prolonged viral infection through virus-host co-evolution19–21. Deletions within the NTD (like Y144del, seen in C.1.2 and other VOCs) have been evident in cases of prolonged infection, further supporting this hypothesis22–24. C.1.2 contains many mutations that have been identified in all four VOCs (Alpha, Beta, Delta and Gamma) and three VOIs (Kappa, Eta and Lambda) as well as additional mutations within the NTD (C136F), RBD (Y449H), and adjacent to the furin cleavage site (N679K). Many of the shared mutations have been associated with improved ACE2 binding (N501Y)25–29 or furin cleavage (H655Y and P681H/R)30–32, and reduced neutralization activity (particularly Y144del, 242-244del, and E484K)17,33–39, providing sufficient cause for concern of continued transmission of this variant. Future work aims to determine the functional impact of these mutations, which likely include neutralizing antibody escape, and to investigate whether their combination confers a replicative fitness advantage over the Delta variant.Read the report here.
Now the report awaits peer review.
You can follow Jenny Goldsberry on Twitter @jennyjournalism.
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FDA will work with China to import cancer drugs due to U.S. shortages
Earlier this week the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced it will be working to import chemotherapy drugs from, of all places, China. The drug, called Cisplatin, is to help “ramp up supply amidst rampant drug shortages in the U.S.” reports Foreign Desk News.
Foreign Desk News writes:
Cisplatin comes from drugmaker Qilu Pharmaceutical, which is marketed and produced in China but has not been approved by the FDA. According to a May 24 letter, Qilu will work with the Canadian-based drug company Apotex to import and distribute the medication, which will come in 50-milligram vials with Chinese labels.
“The FDA is responding to yet another generic drug shortage,” said Edmund F. Haislmaier, an expert in healthcare policy and markets at The Heritage Foundation. “The underlying cause of those shortages is that generic drugs have become low-margin commodity products,” he added.
Last week on Twitter, FDA commissioner Dr. Robert Califf said the partnership with Qilu Pharmaceutical is temporary but will provide patients with a potentially life-extending drug.
“The public should rest assured that we will continue all efforts within our authority to help the industry that manufactures and distributes these drugs meet all patient needs for the oncology drugs impacted by shortages,” Califf said.
The public should rest assured that we will continue all efforts within our authority to help the industry that manufactures and distributes these drugs meet all patient needs for the oncology drugs impacted by shortages. https://t.co/8XvOuJzSL4
— Dr. Robert M. Califf (@DrCaliff_FDA) June 3, 2023
Foreign Desk News adds:
The latest move by the FDA is sure to spark concern and debate in Congress, as lawmakers in the House and Senate have called on the Biden administration to de-couple the U.S. economy from the Chinese markets, given Beijing’s aggressive push to expand in the South-China Sea and eventually take over the island state of Taiwan. China has also spread illegal and dangerous synthetic opioids and fentanyl drugs across the U.S. southern border, resulting in the devastating deaths of many Americans.
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