A new strain of the SARS-CoV-2 virus has been identified in an area of the UK. The media are reporting on this as a new, more easily transmitted or more virulent strain.
There are theoretical concerns that some of the many mutations identified in this virus might make it more contagious and/or cause more severe illness. But this has not been confirmed by clinical data. The case rate in this part of UK is accelerating, leading to more restrictive social measures, but it is not clear whether this is related to human behavior, virus mutations, or a combination of both.
Caution would be prudent.
Here is the link to the posted report.
Preliminary genomic characterisation of an emergent SARS-CoV-2 lineage in the UK defined by a novel set of spike mutations
This report appears on the website:
SARS-CoV-2 coronavirusnCoV-2019 Genomic Epidemiology
This strain is of concern for several reasons.
It presents an unusually high number of mutations.
One of these mutations increases the virus’s affinity to the human ACE2 receptor.
Another mutation has been linked to evasion from the human immune system.
This strain accounts for an increasing proportion of cases in parts of England.
The number of cases of this strain is growing, and the number of regions reporting this strain are growing.
This combination of facts should be a red flag and the authors of the post state:
The rapid growth of this lineage indicates the need for enhanced genomic and epidemiological surveillance worldwide and laboratory investigations of antigenicity and infectivity.
In other words, it needs to be studied and tracked to see if it is significantly more contagious and what impact it has on the pandemic (spread of spread, intensity of illness, morbidity-mortality).
The authors speculate on the possible causes for this large a number of mutations in a single strain. They suggest that the administration of antibody therapy to immune deficient-depressed chronically infected patients could create conditions of evolutionary pressure for rapid and diverse mutation. If that theory is correct, given that there is no data demonstrating reduced mortality rates with this form of treatment, we may be creating a problem with an unproven therapeutic intervention (iatrogenesis).
Convalescent plasma is often given when patient viral loads are high, and Kemp et al. (2020) report that intra-patient virus genetic diversity increased after plasma treatment was given.
Stay tuned for updates.
Also, please read my post from 12/18/20 on the Pfizer-BionTech vaccine. I have made a few minor corrections and clarifications since the original post.
Covid 19 Vaccine: Statistics, Safety, Efficacy, What is a Confidence Interval? | Practical Evolutionary Health (practical-evolutionary-health.com)
In the context of the COVID 19 pandemic I will close with the usual summary.
- Avoid alcohol consumption (alcohol wreaks havoc with your immunity)
- Get plenty of sleep (without adequate sleep your immune system does not work well )
- Follow good sleep habits
- Exercise, especially out of doors in a green space, supports the immune system
- Get some sunshine and make sure you have adequate Vitamin D levels.
- Eat an anti-inflammatory diet rich in micronutrients.
- Practice stress reduction like meditation and yoga which improves the immune system
- Eliminate sugar-added foods and beverages from your diet. These increase inflammation, cause metabolic dysfunction, and suppress immunity.
- Eliminate refined-inflammatory “vegetable oils” from your diet, instead eat healthy fat.
- Clean up your home environment and minimize your family’s exposure to environmental toxins by following recommendations at EWG.org with regards to household products, personal care products, and organic foods. (https://www.ewg.org/)
THIS WEBSITE PROVIDES INFORMATION FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. CONSULT YOUR HEALTH CARE PROVIDER FOR MEDICAL ADVICE.
Eat clean, drink filtered water, love, laugh, exercise outdoors in a greenspace, get some morning sunlight, block the blue light before bed, engage in meaningful work, find a sense of purpose, spend time with those you love, AND sleep well tonight.