Mutant COVID-19 Viruses Converging To Become ‘Super Variant’, Says Study

New Delhi: The worrying SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern, like the UK and South African ones, look to be converging through mutations towards a “super variant”. A new study suggests that it would confer biological advantages to the deadly virus and make the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic difficult.

This is the first-ever study detecting signals of a convergence, which indicates that via mutations, the UK variant is becoming more like the South African variant and vice-versa.

The scientists from various countries like the US, UK, Sweden and South Africa have proved that the emergence and sudden rise in prevalence of three independent SARS-CoV-2 “501Y lineages’’, B.1.1.7, B.1.351 and P.1. The last three months of 2020 have prompted fresh concerns about the evolutionarily capacity of SARS-CoV-2 to adapt to both rising population immunity, and public health interventions such as vaccines and social distancing, reported The New Indian Express.

“As a consequence, all have gained epidemiological and immunological properties that will likely complicate the control of Covid-19,” the study noted.

After testing the patterns of mutations, the scientists got evidence of a major change in the selective forces acting on immunologically important SARS-CoV-2 genes (such as N and S) that may have coincided with the emergence of 501Y lineages.

“Our findings highlight the importance of monitoring how members of these known 501Y lineages, and others still undiscovered, are convergently evolving similar strategies to ensure their persistence in the face of mounting infection and vaccine induced host immune recognition,” the scientists noted.

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