According to a research report published by Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention on December 30, 2020, a mutation novel Coronavirus infection originally found in The UK was first reported in Mainland China.
The case was that of a 23-year-old female student who had recently flown back from the United Kingdom to Shanghai and tested positive for novel Coronavirus. She was transferred to hospital for isolation that night.
As early as December 20, 2020.20, The British Prime Minister Johnson announced that level 4 would be imposed on the whole of London and most other areas.
The reason was the discovery that the novel Coronavirus mutated, significantly increasing the transmissibility of the virus (the new variant of the virus is currently thought to be 70% more transmissible than the original strain).
The Chinese city of Shanghai has reported its first case of the virus
Several issues of public concern:
(1) Why do novel Coronavirus mutate?
Viruses mutate in the course of infection, especially RNA viruses. The most familiar virus to the public should be influenza. In fact, every year the influenza virus has a mutation, so it is generally a new vaccine at intervals.
This new mutation of public concern is mainly N501Y, a key amino acid mutation in the novel coronavirusS protein receptor binding region (RBD), which makes the Novel Coronavirus more likely to bind to ACE2, the human receptor, thus giving it the potential to accelerate virus transmission.
Novel Coronavirus has 23 differences in genetic material from common viruses, among which many changes occur in the protein changes produced by the virus. This novel coronavirus is an abnormally large variant related to how the virus infects cells and enters into the cell interior.
Novel coronavirusS protein mutation
(2) How did the novel Coronavirus mutation happen this time?
Novel Coronavirus produced an average of 1-2 mutations per month, but this time it was a highly abnormal mutation.
The scientists speculate that the subtype B.1.1.7 May be derived from a patient with chronic COVID-19 infection.
Because the immune system is weak, the body becomes a breeding ground for virus mutation.
Different mutated viruses compete in the human body, producing a large number of mutations in one breath, completing rapid mutation and evolution.
(3) Will the current novel Coronavirus nucleic acid and antibody detection fail?
On December 12, the test results of novel coronavirus infection in foreign countries were negative, and on December 14, the test results of novel Coronavirus infection in China were positive.
Whether China’s borders can stand the test of this round of counterattack, and whether our COVID-19 nucleic acid test will appear false negative.
The fact that Shanghai has so far identified the first infected person with a mutation of the virus is hopeful, Dr. Shi said.
Challenges to DISEASE control surveillance
(4) Will all kinds of Novel Coronavirus vaccines that have just been released fail?
COVID-19 vaccines work by training the immune system to recognize the spike proteins of the virus and attack them in the future when the virus tries to infect them.
But if the shape of the spike protein is altered by the mutation, it is possible that the virus will somehow bypass the body’s natural defense system.
For this new variant, there are 17 mutation sites, two of which are on the spike protein. Although COVID-19 vaccine is designed around this specific viral component, with the injection of the vaccine, the human immune system will learn to fight against different parts of the viral spike.
Even vaccines can trigger this so-called “multispecific” immune response, and the vaccine’s effectiveness is not compromised by a single or even several mutations in the protein.
Shi still believes there is little chance that the mutation will cause the virus to escape and that the current COVID-19 vaccine is effective against the mutated strain.
Effectiveness of the vaccine
(5) Will novel Coronavirus cause more serious illness or higher mortality?
Susan Hopkins, a senior medical adviser at Public Health England, who led the study, said the results showed that the mutant strain did not cause more severe illness or increased mortality, but they were still investigating to find out.
At present, we still need time to observe and summarize this condition.